All the buzz in the American business community about the possibilities offered by the newly available spectrum known as CBRS – Citizens Broadband Radio Service – has shed light on the different use cases that CBRS can support at airports, including connected assets, integrated real-time communication, digital load control and remote data loading/unloading. In light of the many benefits it offers, we expect at least 80% of all US airport private networks to operate on CBRS spectrum in the coming years.
A growing number of airports are already facing the challenge of public LTE and Wi-Fi networks with coverage limitations and/or capacity issues, and are looking for a wireless solution that offers more freedom and flexibility. Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a new approach to spectrum sharing that provides businesses and public facilities in the United States with the robust and reliable connectivity needed to meet the needs of their employees, customers and other users, today and in the future.
CBRS is uniquely suited to support high-priority wireless communication use cases in the areas of asset and cargo tracking, biometrics, security and safety, baggage tracking, check-in and boarding management. Beyond the freedom and flexibility that CBRS can provide airport operators, it also provides them with a great opportunity to monetize their investment in the private network.
What is CBRS?
Citizens Broadband Radio Service refers to 150 MHz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz range that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently designated for use by three types of users: incumbent users (primarily United States Navy and commercial fixed satellite stations), Priority Access License (PAL) users, and General Access Authorized (GAA) users. The PAL level is for those who have purchased spectrum licenses, while the GAA level is unlicensed spectrum available for free.
In addition to the many benefits that CBRS spectrum offers wireless and cable operators, it can also be used by other types of businesses, including airports, to build their own private 4G or 5G wireless networks. . Unlike Wi-Fi, CBRS is ideal for supporting both indoor and outdoor use cases, as well as the kind of mixed indoor/outdoor use cases typically found in airports.
Benefits of CBRS for airports
CBRS is a game-changer for all types of private networks as it makes valuable, protected 3.5 GHz spectrum available for the first time. Although airports do not need to pay for a license to use CBRS spectrum, they must apply for access. Since only registered users can use CBRS, the airport decides who installs the infrastructure and it has the ability to limit the deployment of competing CBRS networks within its footprint.
An airport may use up to 150 MHz of CBRS spectrum in its private network. The fact that 3.5 GHz spectrum is available and used around the world, mainly in public networks, ensures that the devices and equipment used for CBRS-based private networks will not be specialized niche-type devices – on the contrary , they will be widely available and affordable. . And if airports choose to build their networks on scalable equipment, they have the option to start with LTE and upgrade to 5G at some point in the future.
Access CBRS Spectrum
The FCC has certified a group of companies, including to serve as Spectrum Access System (SAS) managers with responsibility for coordinating the use of CBRS spectrum. The process is simple: CBRS band usage requests are made through the cloud-based SAS system. The system checks if spectrum is available in the desired geographic location, and if so, the request will be granted. Ericsson has strong relationships with SAS managers and will be happy to guide airport operators through this process if necessary.
To manage GAA and PAL spectrum, Ericsson’s private 5G solution includes an FCC-certified domain proxy that provides a secure point in the corporate network to interface with SAS. This allows Ericsson’s private industrial 5G customers in the United States to quickly and reliably access CBRS spectrum in compliance with FCC regulations.
How CBRS fits into an airport’s existing wireless infrastructure
It is important to be clear that CBRS does not replace an airport’s existing wireless communications technology – rather it is an add-on that relieves existing solutions and provides greater capability to support new ones. medium and long term technologies. . It ensures reliable connectivity for dedicated and mission-critical systems while laying the foundation to support the increasingly demanding systems of the future. In the future, airports will need both Wi-Fi and 5G to effectively support their use cases, with each technology playing its own connectivity role.
Another benefit of creating a CBRS-based, carrier-agnostic private network is the ability to work across multiple carriers. Airports also have the opportunity to monetize their investment by deploying their private network infrastructure for operators, if and when needed.
CBRS at Dallas Love Field Airport
Dallas’ Love Field Airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the United States, is a prime example of an airport that found its rapidly expanding operations resulted in congested and underperforming wireless networks. . To ensure smooth operations and a positive customer experience, the airport wanted to find a high-performance, low-latency connectivity solution and that’s exactly what they found with CBRS. In addition to expanding wireless coverage and capacity, the CBRS-based private LTE network they deployed also streamlines IT operations and functions.
CBRS at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport
After completing three comprehensive proofs of concept (PoC) in the areas of runway, cargo and terminal services, Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Airport – one of the largest airports in the nation – decided to moving forward with its plans to build a private 5G network based on CBRS. DFW chose this solution because they want control over the network and data, as well as the ability to share the network with airlines and tenants. In their PoCs, they discovered that the coverage, throughput, latency, and reliability improvements they achieved with CBRS fundamentally improved the efficiency of services such as baggage handling. To learn more about what DFW has done and what’s in the works, check out the case history in our Connected Aviation report.
How Ericsson supports CBRS technology
Multiband products are ideal for airports looking to use CBRS because they allow less equipment to be installed while serving more users and use cases. With this in mind, Ericsson is currently building a Radio Dot product which will have four bands: B48 (CBRS), n41 (2.5 GHz), B25 (1900) and B66 (2100). CBRS can be used for 4G/5G private network application for airport operations, while B25 and B66 are common licensed bands for all MNOs, so they can all simultaneously provide 4G and 5G services on these bands, using a neutral host configuration.
CBRS-based private networks are the ideal choice for airports that want to ensure the provision of reliable connectivity to support existing and new use cases throughout their operations, from terminals to ramps, as well as on the airfield and in all cargo. areas. A CBRS-based private network gives an airport much more freedom and flexibility as well as better control over network architecture, coverage, performance, security and technology evolution than public networks shared with airports. other users.
To learn more about the benefits of using a CBRS-based private network at an airport, see our Connected Aviation report.
How to land the future of connected aviation – Ericsson
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