LTE & CBRS

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and it is a global communication standard. LTE was developed by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), an organization that unites seven telecommunication standard development organizations. These organizations work together to produce reports and specifications that define 3GPP technologies.


LTE was originally designed for mobile use in cellular networks. However, in the past several years, it’s become popular among Fixed Wireless broadband providers including wireless ISPs, telecoms (ILEC & CLEC), cable (MSOs), electrical co-ops, and others providing internet as a service.

Watch the LTE & CBRS Overview Webinar

This LTE and CBRS Overview Webinar hosted by DoubleRadius on August 21, 2019 focuses on breaking down the complexities into understandable terms. The presentation includes LTE acronyms, carrier vs fixed wireless comparison, platform technology, benefits and considerations, resources, current equipment vendors and other key parties involved. We also cover CBRS history, tier rules, spectrum allocation, SAS, acronyms, key parties, and Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD).



What is LTE?

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and it is a global communication standard. LTE was developed by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), an organization that unites seven telecommunication standard development organizations. These organizations work together to produce reports and specifications that define 3GPP technologies.


LTE was originally designed for mobile use in cellular networks. However, in the past several years, it’s become popular among Fixed Wireless broadband providers including wireless ISPs, telecoms (ILEC & CLEC), cable (MSOs), electrical co-ops, and others providing internet as a service.


LTE Network Diagram - An LTE base station on a remote tower transmits signals that successfully penetrate dense foliage to connect to Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) subscribers that are otherwise not able to receive coverage.




Benefits of LTE Networks for Fixed Wireless

  1. Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Performance
    LTE was designed for outdoor wireless, and operates exceptionally well in high foliage environments. LTE provides proven Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) penetration/coverage and can serve as an overlay/alternative to existing 900 MHz networks. LTE can connect new customers that were previously unreachable, and provide higher capacity and more reliable service to existing customers.
  2. Clean Spectrum Access
    Particularly the 3.5 GHz CBRS licensed band (between 3550 MHz -3700 MHz) that’s mentioned below, operators can enjoy less interference. Fixed wireless LTE can also be deployed in licensed 2.5 GHz and unlicensed 5 GHz bands.
  3. Standards Based Solution (Interoperability)
    The LTE standard creates interoperability between LTE systems. This is important especially for Service Providers, as it prevents them from getting stuck with one particular manufacturer when purchasing a proprietary solution. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is helping the cause by opening additional spectrum in 3.65 GHz through what is called the "Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)," expanding usage to now include 3.55 GHz - 3.7 GHz. This development will enable smaller providers to offer clean and protected internet service in a manner similar to the larger mobile carriers.
  4. Scalability
    LTE is designed for scalability. Although configuring an LTE network initially takes more effort, once done correctly, scaling becomes easier.
  5. Increased Network Value
    As a carrier-grade, scalable solution that represents the wave of the future, technology companies are investing billions into LTE research and development. As such, migrating to a wireless network with LTE architecture makes the network more attractive to potential buyers, should the Service Provider decide to sell their business down the road.




What is CBRS?

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is all the buzz in the wireless world, but what exactly is it? CBRS is the spectrum in the 3.65GHz band between 3550~3700MHz. In April 2015, FCC regulated CBRS for commercial deployment as Part 96 Rules. This band is lightly licensed and shared among users. CBRS offers tremendous opportunities to enable both in-building and outdoor coverage and capacity expansion at low cost.


CBRS Access Tiers

CBRS includes 100 MHz of new spectrum, plus the previous 50 MHz, for a total of 150 MHz. Access to CBRS is divided into the following three tiers:

  1. Incumbent
  2. Priority
  3. General

The top tiers are protected from interference from tiers below them.




How Does CBRS Work?

As mentioned above, access is granted through three theirs of FCC licensing. All LTE devices must be installed by a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) and registered with a Spectrum Access System (SAS), which controls the sharing and use of spectrum. Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) Sensors will detect ship-borne radar and prevent commercial interference with naval ships using as they move through coastal areas using the band. After the Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) which is currently underway (as of August, 2019) final timeline decisions will be made to determine when additional tier access.


Two helpful resources for better understanding CBRS are:

  1. LTE & CBRS Overview Webinar Video
  2. CBRS Blog Series produced in partnership with Baicells


Additional LTE Spectrum

Apart from the CBRS band where much fixed wireless deployment will take place, there are also other bands into which LTE can also be deployed:

  • 2.5 GHz
    The 2.5 GHz band is comprised of two radio services, the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) and the Broadband Radio Service (BRS). Since 2005, the FCC has opened up the EBS for commercial use including broadband access. Auctions are held regularly for parties wanting to buy, sell, or lease 2.5 GHz licenses.
  • 5 GHz LTE
    LTE equipment is also available in the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum and is available, although 5 GHz LTE does not offer penetration qualities of the lower bands for NLOS applications. However, 5 GHz LTE is a great option for micropops and indoor applications.

Manufacturers