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Private LTE Demonstrated on Microsoft Azure

CommScope’s Ruckus CBRS portfolio and Attabotics’ 3D robotic supply chain automation system were demonstrated as part of Microsoft Azure capabilities for private LTE networks during Microsoft Ignite, the Microsoft annual gathering of technology leaders. held Nov. 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Ross Ortega, partner PM, Azure Networking said, “The Microsoft Azure-based private LTE solution builds on decades of Microsoft enterprise success stories. In collaborating with CommScope and Metaswitch, we see opportunity to enable IoT applications and take advantage of the security, latency and bitrates provided by private LTE networks for our mutual customers.”

CommScope’s Ruckus Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) portfolio enables enterprises to easily deploy private LTE networks to support innovative Internet of Things (IoT) applications using wireless spectrum recently made available by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Designed with enterprise IT operations in mind, this new portfolio greatly simplifies the management and deployment of a cellular network. Now, enterprise IT administrators have a new wireless tool that can be leveraged for a wide variety of applications that were not previously possible.

“We are proud that the Ruckus CBRS LTE portfolio was part of this innovative Microsoft demo at Ignite 2019,” said Joel Lindholm, vice president of CBRS Business at CommScope. “Using the end to end encryption of the LTE network, enterprise customers can feel comfortable with the secure nature of this new network. This demonstration highlights how private networks can be used by enterprise customers for automated applications such as Attabotics.”

The Ruckus CBRS portfolio uses separate dedicated spectrum from licensed cellular and Wi-Fi, thus providing cellular-like reliability, mobility, security and quality of service, but with the simplicity of Wi-Fi. Integration of the Ruckus CBRS portfolio with Microsoft Azure’s networking and edge connectivity solutions will enable enterprises to successfully address challenging and critical use cases with dedicated, secure, ultra-high-quality private LTE networks

CBRS May Spawn New Type of Wireless Carrier

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Sharpe’s Edge


Ever since the carriers pulled back on deploying additional DAS networks, the in-building wireless industry has been trying to break into the market for enterprises that occupy between 100,000 square feet and 500,000 square feet of space, known as the “middleprise.”

Much progress has been made. Measures have been undertaken to make these systems less expensive, less intrusive and quicker to deploy. Yet the growth expected in in-building wireless (IBW) systems has remained elusive, perhaps until now.

Yet the growth expected in IBW has remained elusive, perhaps until now.

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service at 3.5 GHz could prove to be a great enabler of  private LTE systems, which give enterprises something they crave: control. Parallel to the evolution of DAS, quantum leaps have occurred in the area of evolved packet cores, the critical control element of the mobile network that enables the user’s connectivity. Instead of depending on the carriers’ cores, today an enterprise can have a dedicated core on the premises or use one in the cloud providing much of the same functionality as the traditional carriers’ core, but for a fraction of the cost and operational complexity.

I have wondered whether a company could provide service to enough in-building venues to become known as a niche wireless carrier. Is Boingo Wireless a carrier? It is, if you count its Wi-Fi subscribers. Otherwise, leasing indoor wireless infrastructure to an enterprise just makes a firm similar to a tower company.

Then I learned about Geoverse, which is owned by ATNI, a company that owns and operates mobile, fixed and cable television (CATV) providers in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. As a result of this relationship, Geoverse can leverage ATNI’s existing roaming agreements with licensed major carriers for its private LTE solutions. In addition, Geoverse’s blockchain transaction platform, known as GeoTrade, presents an opportunity for monetizing the roaming agreements between the public carrier networks and the in-building private LTE network. Geoverse has a relationship with Ruckus Networks and, eventually, will add every major indoor OEM.

Another company involved in monetizing the CBRS spectrum, Syniverse, has teamed with Ruckus Networks and Federated Wireless to develop private, high-speed and secure wireless networks. Syniverse provides the LTE core network, Ruckus Networks provides the LTE access points for the radio network, and Federated Wireless monitors and manages the spectrum.

The key to monetizing these private networks is a blockchain ledger-based billing and settlement system that allows operators manage the logging, clearing and settlement process for the commercial exchanges between parties.

The final piece of the puzzle is the availability of spectrum in the CBRS band, which uses general access licenses to quickly get frequencies into the hands of the enterprises at no cost. If you take access to frequencies, add control over the evolved packet core and the ability to monetize the system, you may just be looking at the future of enterprise in-building wireless.

I am no one to forecast how companies will attack the marketplace, but I have noticed a couple of interesting personnel changes. ExteNet, which has 2,000 CBRS-ready systems in place and can provide its own core, hired Jim Hyde, a man with a rich history on the carrier side (Western Wireless, T-Mobile UK, Ntelos). And then there is Stephen Bye, with more than 27 years of experience with wireless, cable and wireline service providers, who left C Spire to join another CBRS player, Connectivity Wireless Solutions.

Will ExteNet, Connectivity Wireless, Geoverse or Syniverse or some other company become a niche wireless carrier catering to the areas inside of buildings, while the major carriers cover the space outdoors? The market will decide, but the ingredients are there.

SBA Reports Strong Q3; Well-positioned for Growth in 5G, CBRS

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

SBA Communications came in with good domestic site leasing revenue numbers in the third quarter, thanks to continued 4G densification and early 5G deployments. Delays in the Sprint/T-Mobile merger have put short-term stress on the tower industry, But SBA officials were confident that when the merger is cleared, 5G will take off. And so with the tower industry.

Jeffrey Stoops, SBA president and CEO, also gave visibility to SBA’s plans for involvement in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, after the auction puts priority access licenses (PAL) into the hands of the carriers and the cable companies.

“We had another solid performance in the third quarter,” Stoops said. “In the United States, we believe we are at the beginning of a long-term 5G deployment cycle that we expect will sustain activity levels for quite some time.”

With all the time and energy carriers are sinking into actively planning the 5G ecosystem, it is only a matter of time before it takes off, according to Stoops. Additionally, commitments by T-Mobile and Dish to build out extensive 5G networks add further proof that the technology will begin growing soon.

“Once there is clarity around the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, tower activity will explode. We believe the 5G iPhone … will prove to be decisive catalyst,” Stoops said. “We anticipate this type of activity to continue for at least the next several years. In the future 5G networks will require the deployment or redeployment of low- and mid-band spectrum further solidifying the importance of macrosites.”

Primarily a macrosite company, SBA also sees a future for growth in in-building wireless. It received one of the first test CBRS licenses and has been trialing new uses primarily for in-building applications where DAS is not economical. In anticipation of CBRS, the company has been growing its portfolio of properties and now manages close to 14,000 properties, in addition to sites it owns. In the third quarter, SBA invested in Federated Wireless, the inventor of the spectrum access system, to further its reach into CBRS.

“We believe the upcoming CBRS auction of priority access licenses [and the General Authorized Access licenses] will unleash a new era of demand for both macro and in-building deployments,” Stoops said.

Domestic Leasing Revenue Increases 6 Percent

All four major carriers were active during the third quarter and accounted for 84 percent of the total leasing revenue. Amendment activity was accounted for 84 percent of newly signed domestic leasing revenue and 16 percent from new leases.

“These amendments represent upgrades to our customers’ existing networks through technological improvements, the deployment of new spectrum bands and the addition of capacity,” Stoops said.

Domestic cash site leasing revenue was $371.4 million in the third quarter of 2019 compared to $350.4 million last year, an increase of 6 percent. Domestic site leasing segment operating profit was $310.9 million, an increase of 8.5 percent year over the year. Sequential quarterly numbers were impacted by the Sprint/T-Mobile merger delays.

“Domestic operational leasing activity, representing new revenue placed under contract during the quarter, was again very solid in the third quarter, although down sequentially from the second quarter because of the delays in the resolution in the Sprint/T-Mobile merger,” Brendan Cavanagh, chief financial officer, said. “Our domestic leasing application backlog continues to be strong, as well, indicating a significant amount of future investment into our customers’ 4G and 5G networks.”

SBA increased its outlook for the fourth quarter site leasing revenue by $4 million, but the outlook also includes some moderation in the services business because of the slowdown from the first half of the year in the activity of Sprint, T-Mobile and Dish Network as they await approval of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger.

“This is logical and expected under the circumstances. We expect an immediate escalation of activity once the outcome of the merger becomes clear and long-term network decisions can be made with certainty,” Cavanagh said.

SBA continued to see churn from Clearwire, Metro and Leap during the quarter as expected. The tower company will churn off $5 million annually for the next two years from these terminations. The churn numbers also include $6 million of annualize churn incurred in the fourth quarter of 2018 from legacy iDEN leases. This is the last quarter where churn numbers will be impacted by iDEN.

During the third quarter of 2019, excluding the sites from the previously announced South Africa investment, SBA acquired 78 communication sites for total cash consideration of $27.8 million. SBA also built 98 towers during the third quarter of 2019.

On August 30, the tower company closed on its option to acquire all but 6 percent of a joint venture in South Africa, including 889 towers, for $140 million. SBA now owns or operates 30,904 communication sites, 16,385 of which are located in the United States and its territories, and 14,519 of which are located internationally.

Ubicquia, Altiostar Expand Partnership to Accelerate CBRS Rural Broadband

Ubicquia and Altiostar announced an expansion of their partnership that will integrate Ubicquia’s new Ubimetro streetlight-powered small cell for CBRS spectrum with Altiostar’s Open vRAN software. The Open vRAN-integrated Ubimetro small cell is compatible with more than 50 million existing streetlights across the US allowing municipalities, utilities, wireless internet service providers (WISPs) and mobile network operators (MNOs) to expedite service deployments with the industry’s lowest total cost of ownership (TCO).

“With the FCC allocating $4.9 billion to accelerate rural broadband, our new Altiostar vRAN-enabled CBRS Ubimetro small cell with fiber and DOCSIS backhaul will enable Wireless Internet Service Providers to leverage local fiber and cable infrastructure to close the digital divide,” said Ian Aaron, CEO of Ubicquia. “With more than 750 independent cable operators and 2,000 municipally owned utilities, our new Ubimetro CBRS small cell solves the site selection, power and transport issues that will facilitate local broadband partnerships that will connect the unconnected.”

“Ubicquia’s Ubimetro streetlight small cell is designed to expand Altiostar’s vRAN deployment scenarios in the US and around the globe for a broad variety of use cases,” said Thierry Maupilé, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Product Management at Altiostar. “Building these new networks on enterprise virtual machines, combined with Ubimetro’s ability to leverage more than 360 million streetlights globally provides our customers—from cities and campuses to utilities and operators—the fastest time to market with the lowest total cost of ownership as well as the ability to leverage advanced algorithms for interference mitigation and increased coordination with the macro network.”

Today’s news follows last week’s announcement by Ubicquia that its Ubimetro suite of small cell products will also offer Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) capabilities. The Ubimetro portfolio of small cells are designed to support the network of the future, including 4G/5G, millimeter-wave spectrum, CBRS, and now Altiostar’s Open vRAN. Ubimetro provides a network-agnostic architecture with integrated MIMO antennas, a wide range of radio frequency front ends, and Ethernet, fiber and DOCSIS backhaul options.

Ubimetro’s unique, patent-pending design makes the small cells compatible with the existing infrastructure of more than 360 million streetlights worldwide. Their design allows for ultra-fast, easy plug-in deployment and renders them invisible from the street, helping network operators, cities and utilities solve their site acquisition challenges. Ubimetro’s technology is field-proven with service providers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.

CellAntenna Opens California West Coast Operations Center in Silicon Valley

CellAntenna Wireless announced it has opened its West Coast operations center in Silicon Valley, located in Hayward, California, at the Mobile World Congress Americas (MWC19) held this week in Los Angeles. The new center is located to support the increase for Private LTE, CBRS, Public Safety and 5G In-Building wireless technology

CellAntenna’s affiliate Silicon Valley operations center provides Site Surveys, IBWave Design, Equipment Procurement, Installation, Commissioning, and Support – a comprehensive service package ideally suited for the support of next generation solutions. Building on the recent announcement, CPI certification supporting the buildout of OnGo certified Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) equipment, CellAntenna is well positioned nationwide to provide complete end-to-end design and integration services coast to coast. Deploying 4G LTE , 5G, CBRS, private LTE, Public Safety and other integrated roaming service solutions, CellAntenna provides customers with full last mile – down to the last millimeter support to integrate existing user equipment based on old technology allowing for the smooth deployment of flawless essential high speed communication.

The company leverages over 17 years of DAS experience supplying end to end DAS communication services. Spanning from traditional active and passive systems through to the latest fiber driven small cell architectures, CellAntenna installs and commissions Ericsson’s Radio DOT and Corning’s SpiderCloud’s Service and Radio Nodes. With its recently announced CBRS-CPI certification, CellAntenna supports a comprehensive portfolio of options that deliver to the customer both 4G and 5G cutting edge technology and Public Safety systems. CellAntenna Wireless continues to expand its operations and is expected to open offices in Texas and the northeast markets next year Q2.