US-based broadband provider Starry Internet sought to boost its fixed wireless access (FWA) network with new spectrum, eyeing 3.5GHz airwaves coveted by tier-1 operators for their own deployments.
In an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the company said it wants to test the band’s suitability for use alongside mmWave, which it currently uses to provide FWA access in a handful of markets. The company said the addition of 3.5GHz could help it expand broadband connectivity further across the country.
But Starry Internet’s ambitions could be in jeopardy: tier-1 operators recently convinced the FCC to reconsider its rules for the 3.5GHz band, designated in the US as the shared Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), pushing for wider licence areas and terms. Leading operators argue such changes would make it more practical to deploy service in the band.
Starry Internet and others have urged the FCC to keep the existing rules, warning changes would negatively impact smaller providers’ use of the band.
Despite the uncertainty, Starry Internet said it wants to evaluate the band’s “effectiveness for residential fixed broadband, and its utility for backhaul and redundancy”. It will also “explore the technical and economic implications of adding a CBRS layer” to its network and the “potential for creating an enhanced heterogeneous multi-band network in a shared spectrum environment”.
The company noted the Boston-based test would use no more than five CBRS baseband and radio node devices from equipment vendor Bai Cells, and up to ten indoor and outdoor user terminals from the same.
Starry Internet aims to conduct the trial over a period of 24 months.