Seeking Treasure Through Innovative CBRS Solutions

November 13, 2018


| BY Michael Williamson

Valuable treasure lurks in the form of coins and gold bullion scattered across the ocean floor, a byproduct of centuries-old shipwrecks. In pursuit of undiscovered shipwrecks, treasure hunters seek untold riches sometimes worth billions of dollars.

Exciting CBRS Possibilities

Likewise, modern-day treasure hunters seek to unlock the secrets of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). This treasure may be worth billions as well. Innovative enterprises who exploit the potential of CBRS for the general user may reap a true windfall. According to Bloomberg, a former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner estimates the potential value of CBRS at $260 billion. 

CBRS certainly presents a treasure trove of possibilities. For example, private in-building coverage offers key advantages, including the potential for improved security. Employees would use a custom app to access the system. In-building wireless connectivity based on CBRS rather than WiFi could dramatically improve system speed and performance. 

Larger enterprises could rely on a private network for a variety of site-specific uses. In the near future, CBRS solutions may be deployed by commercial real estate companies, stadiums and hospitals. Hospitality companies are eager to replace spotty WiFi with CBRS. Although enhanced reliability is one reason to seek CBRS solutions, speed is another. For example, a CBRS-based 5G network could potentially deliver HD movie downloads in less than a second. 

Comparing the value of WiFi to that of CBRS is like comparing expensive gems and precious metals. Although different, both are valuable. Although many practical applications have yet to be imagined, developed and deployed, it is possible that the 3.5 GHz band will become the de facto 5G global standard. 

New CBRS Access Rights 

In the past, the 150 MHz-wide band at 3550-3700 MHz was strictly for military use - primarily for radar systems. In 2017, the FCC approved a new three-tier spectrum access system (SAS):

  • Incumbent Access
  • Priority Access
  • General Authorized Access

Incumbent Access users, like U.S. Navy radar operators, are protected from interference by those operating in the Priority Access and General Authorized Access tiers. Companies will bid at mini-auctions for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) good in specific geographic areas. General Authorized Access users will enjoy free access to parts of the 3550-3700 MHz spectrum not currently used by those in the first two tiers. 

To deploy a general-user CBRS system, all that’s necessary is the purchase and registration of FCC-certified equipment configured by a qualified SAS vendor. Ease of deployment should stimulate wide acceptance of CBRS. Bloomberg cites Mobile Experts, a research firm that estimates the annual addition of one million access points by 2025.

CBRS' credibility expanded at Mobile World Congress Americas with the appearance of numerous chipset makers and small cell solutions providers. CBRS capability will increasingly appear in smartphones and small cells, and supporting chipsets are coming as well. 

“There will be more opportunities for entities other than the Big Four wireless carriers to provide private networks and other capabilities for the first time,” according to one author, who concludes, “If it succeeds, the wireless landscape will have changed dramatically, and for the better.”


SOLiD is among the industry innovators seeking to unlock the true potential of CBRS. For 20 years, SOLiD has delivered DAS solutions for wireless communications. In 2018, SOLiD introduced the next-generation Genesis DAS

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