LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: The first US deployments on the 3.5GHz band are coming soon, but CBRS Alliance chairman Neville Meijers said the success of the band will depend on operator compliance with the shared system boundaries.
According to Mejiers, customers are aiming to launch services on the band as soon as the end of this year or early 2018. Interest is coming from both traditional players (like Charter) and non-traditional entrants, but the first implementations will likely be in the IoT and enterprise spaces, he said.
To make these deployments happen, the CBRS Alliance has been working through “complexities that have never been dealt with in a cellular environment before”. These include setting up a shared access system, accommodating incumbents, ensuring fair coexistence, and working out how two adjacent users can exist near each other without guard bands.
Meijers said CBRS has the potential to surpass the utility of WiFi in terms of enabling new innovations. But the success of the band depends on users complying with the fair sharing framework.
“There’s a limited amount of spectrum, so as long as there’s a cohesive approach to the allocation of that spectrum and the utilisation of that spectrum, and operators and users of the spectrum respect those boundaries, I think there can be a huge amount of innovation,” Meijers told Mobile World Live.
“As soon as an operator breaks from that compliance, then there can be a lot of disruption which will result in having to have guard bands to protect others from interference.”
“There lies the challenge,” he continued. “We can make this band super efficient and super successful for everybody, or it could end up potentially being a band where we have a lot of need for guard bands between operators which results in a lot of inefficiency.”
According to preliminary figures from an economic study commissioned by the CBRS Alliance, the CBRS band has an estimated market value between $7.5 billion and $15.6 billion. Utilisation of the band will represent a 16 per cent expansion in the licensed spectrum available below 4GHz.
Meijers said the CBRS Alliance is looking forward to a busy 2018, working to get CBRS well-established and used by 2019.