The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), which makes 150 MHz of shared spectrum available between 3,550 and 3,700 MHz, is arguably the FCC’s most interesting offering in years. If it delivers on even half of its promises, the agency will have created a genuinely useful opportunity for innovation. As spectrum sharing is exceedingly difficult to achieve without dissolving into chaos, CBRS rules are very specific in certain areas, although antennas receive surprisingly little treatment. Consequently, it’s the responsibility of those developing CBRS networks to fully understand their significance in determining overall performance and meeting FCC rules.
CBRS in a Nutshell
CBRS was formalized by the FCC In April 2015 with the goal of making additional spectrum available on a shared basis for a wide variety of uses, without creating interference to existing services. The agency hopes that the new allocation will enable wireless carriers to increase network performance, provide an alternative for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, allow cable companies to get into the wireless business, and perhaps of greatest interest, make it possible for organizations other than wireless carriers to operate private networks using digital (presumably LTE) technology for the first time. These are just a few cases where CBRS will have an impact—there are potentially many others.