FCC approves full commercial deployment of CBRS OnGo service

FCC Approved CBRS

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the Full Commercial Deployment (FCD) of the OnGo service in the 3.5 GHz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band this week. The approval means Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google and Sony are allowed to operate commercial services in the band.

FCD is in the last stage of the commercialization process that began in 2013. That’s when the FCC started to pursue an innovative-shared spectrum model in the 3.5 GHz band. The initiative’s success comes from public-private partnerships between industry and government organizations—the FCC, National Telecommunications and Industry Administration, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences and Department of Defense worked with the Wireless Innovation Forum and the CBRS Alliance to create commercial usage of the 3.5 GHz band.

“NTIA’s groundbreaking engineering work and close collaboration with the FCC, DOD and industry played a critical role in opening up the 3.5 GHz CBRS band for next-generation wireless services,” Douglas Kinkoph, NTIA Associate Administrator performing the delegated duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information said in a release. “New 5G and 4G operations in the band will create tremendous value for our nation – both in terms of their contributions to GDP and further strengthening U.S. leadership in wireless technologies.”

“The FCC has made it a priority to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G. And today, I’m pleased to announce the latest step to achieve that priority: the approval of four systems that will enable the 3.5 GHz band to be put to use for the benefit of American consumers and businesses,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “As with all of our efforts to execute on the 5G FAST plan, we’re pushing to get next-generation wireless services deployed in the 3.5 GHz band as quickly and efficiently as possible. I would like to thank Commissioner Mike O’Rielly for his leadership throughout this proceeding as well as the FCC staff and those in the private sector who have worked so hard to achieve this milestone.”

How 3.5 GHz CBRS band commercialization will work

Before the 3.5 GHz CBRS band was commercially available, the Department of Defense primarily used it for shipborne radar systems. Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) networks have been deployed along the U.S. coast to ensure the DoD has continued access to the band. Meanwhile, the ESC networks that CommScope, Federated Wireless and Google operate will inform SAS administrators to activate a protection zone and reassign users in the areas to other parts of the band. This system will protect the DoD’s spectrum use while also maximizing the CBRS spectrum’s availability across coastal areas.

“The authorization of Full Commercial Deployments in the CBRS band is a significant milestone in our nation’s management and utilization of a vital resource, the radio frequency spectrum,” Dana Deasy, Chief Information Officer for the Department of Defense said in a release. “We look to build upon those successes going forward. Additionally, I would like to thank the men and women in DoD who have diligently worked to make today possible.”

The CBRS band is expected to improve in-building connectivity—and beyond

The CBRS band is projected to contribute approximately $15.6 billion to the U.S. economy—and its actual to value to consumers is estimated to be between $80 and $260 billion. Consumers can now experience improved wireless connectivity through OnGo-compatible mobile devices including the Google Pixel 4, Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod, Samsung Galaxy S10, Apple iPhone 11, LG G8 ThinQ and OnePlus 7 Pro.

The vast OnGo ecosystem will open a new market for wireless communications and 5G services in the U.S. and reach rural broadband through fixed wireless providers (WISPs), enterprise IT, hospitality, real estate, industrial IoT (Internet of Things), transportation and more.

“The 3.5 GHz band is a unifying spectrum for the 5G generation and the U.S. shared spectrum approach to using this valuable spectrum will lead to a high rate of spectrum utilization,” Chris DePuy, founder and technology analyst at 650 Group said in a statement. “The CBRS Alliance and OnGo program have captured the imagination of operators, regulators and vendors around the world as a model for using spectrum that unlocks significant value. As we enter 2020, we will see OnGo used both as a reliable backhaul mechanism to other networks, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Ethernet, and to some innovative end-user devices.”

“With commercial deployments of OnGo already underway, the CBRS Alliance would like to recognize the exceptional efforts of the almost 160 member companies that comprise the Alliance, as well as the extensive industry and government collaboration required to bring OnGo to market,” CBRS Alliance President Dave Wright said in a statement. “Over the past six years, our members have contributed incredible amounts of time, energy, and innovation to address the need for reliable, cost-effective wireless services and have now made OnGo a reality.”

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