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FAQ: The Benefits of Private LTE and CBRS

In our webinar, “Why OnGo Dedicated Cellular CBRS Networks are a Game Changer for Commercial and Industrial Enterprises,” we discussed how the growing number of wireless connected devices is driving new requirements that traditional public mobile cannot address for various industries. Many enterprises are addressing the escalating specifications by turning to private LTE, a dedicated wireless network separate from the wide-area macro mobile network. Telit is a promoter and enabler of this movement, bringing decades of cellular leadership to help you securely deploy and scale a new generation of private LTE-based IoT solutions.

With our partner MultiTech Systems, we showed you how to create a strategic plan to scale your private IoT deployment. We discussed Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) use cases across multiple verticals and the factors driving organizations to deploy their OnGo networks in the CBRS Band 48.

We received many questions during this webinar. Here are the top 10 questions with answers provided by Daniel Quant of MultiTech Systems and Safi Khan of Telit.

Safi Khan

Safi Khan

Regional Product Marketing Director, Telit
Daniel Quant

Daniel Quant

Vice President of Strategic Development, MultiTech Systems
Experience the Benefits of Private LTE

1. What are the benefits of CBRS over a 5G private network?

Daniel Quant, MultiTech: 3GPP 5G New Radio (5G NR) has three distinct improvement areas over 4G LTE.

This first is enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which was released a couple of years ago and initially targeted consumers on public networks. eMBB delivers improvements in data rates well over 1 Gbps, bringing cellular communication to the data rates Wi-Fi provides for organizations today with better range using a deterministic service that’s more resilient and reliable, especially for business-critical applications.

The second key tenant of 5G NR, ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC), was recently released as part of 3GPP Release 16. URLLC enables latencies of order of milliseconds and lower, allowing time-sensitive networking (TSN) of distributed control systems within industrial plants when deployed on-premises by the enterprise. Why? Because the enterprise can configure the private 5G network to meet the required performance of its applications, it has full control of its facility and isn’t reliant on interworking with public networks. Most importantly, for many enterprises, access to these private wireless networks isn’t on the internet, significantly reducing attempts to hack complex control systems in a power station or off-shore oil rig by unauthorized persons.

Enterprises continue to digitize every part of their operations by connecting all their assets, from large mission-critical machines to low-consequence data from sensors on motors, pumps and chemical tanks. Often referred to in 5G terms as “KPI #3” is massive machine-type communications (mMTC). The ongoing monthly data plan cost of connecting so many assets clustered within a building or facility has a far better return on investment (ROI) when capitalized as a network investment without recurring costs of data plans per device for the asset’s life.

The FCC has recently liberalized the CBRS band 3.55-3.7 GHz as a shared spectrum band that empowers enterprises, SMBs, governments and even school districts to deploy their 5G network within this band. They can enjoy managed spectrum without paying expensive license fees.

2. What is the difference between public LTE or 5G vs. private LTE or 5G for industrial apps?

Daniel Quant, MultiTech: The differences are privacy, performance and easy access to spectrum with an improved ROI business model.

Enterprises can control deploying their network without depending upon an operator or service provider to bring the spectrum needed to provide the coverage. Organizations can quickly set up their network within buildings or around campuses by accessing CBRS spectrum in the 3.55-3.7 GHz General Authorized Access (GAA) tier via a low-cost subscription to a Spectrum Access System (SAS) per base station (referred to as Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device, CBSD). Typically, 40% of buildings have inadequate signal strength and communication performance in buildings. By owning a private wireless network, enterprises can deploy CBSDs exactly where their applications require coverage and create a highly resilient wireless network deep inside buildings, basements and noisy environments such as refineries.

Today’s public networks adopt a best-effort approach to connecting all user equipment devices, whether they’re smartphones or industrial gateways. Enterprises can now deploy and manage their dedicated OnGo-CBRS core network, enabling IT departments to prioritize their traffic and devices based upon SLAs. For example, video surveillance requires a high availability SLA with priority over tablets on best-effort performance.

Gone are data plans per device per month for the life of the asset. Businesses can capitalize on their investment in a private network with no limits and a better ROI, particularly for devices that remain within a campus or building environment, which is the case for most enterprise assets.

3. What are the capital and operational expense comparisons between private CBRS and wireless technologies (e.g., LoRa, BLE and Wi-Fi) for an industrial or sizeable institutional complex?

Safi Khan, Telit: CBRS requires far fewer base station units to cover the same size building than the number of Wi-Fi access points. The transmit power level allowed in CBRS is higher than Wi-Fi, and CBRS uses shared spectrum,  which can offer better performance than Wi-Fi in unlicensed spectrum. Even though CBRS base stations’ price is higher than that of Wi-Fi APs, approximately three times more APs are required to cover the same building.

There are some additional cost savings in CBRS because the lower number of units also translates into proportionately lower network equipment and installation costs than Wi-Fi. Therefore, the net result is that the CAPEX for CBRS is lower than that of Wi-Fi. On the OPEX side, Wi-Fi is lower in cost compared to CBRS. CBRS must account for SAS service provider fees and core EPC network as a service cost.

4. What is the maximum distance range for CBSD Class A and CBSD Class B, and on which condition should both be adopted? When each of them is mandatory?

Safi Khan, Telit: A Class A CBSD is an enterprise-class, small-cell base station intended for indoor deployment; however, it can be considered a low power outdoor unit. The maximum allowed total EIRP is 30 dBm (1 Watt). On the other hand, a Class B CBSD is an outdoor-only base station with a higher transmit power allowed compared to Class A. The maximum allowed total EIRP for a Class A device is 47 dBm (50 Watts). If both Class A and Class B devices are OnGo certified, either one can be deployed depending on the requirements.

If a long, outdoor range needs to be covered, use Class B CBSD; for covering indoor enterprise buildings, use Class A CBSD. Class A devices, mainly intended for indoor use, can be used outdoors; however, their antennas can’t be installed at a height more than 6 meters above the ground.

One other difference between Class A and Class B CBSDs is that Class B has a mandatory requirement to be professionally installed, whereas Class A doesn’t (if their antenna is below 6 m in height). The total distance range depends on many factors, such as path loss, fading conditions, etc. There can be obstructions for indoor use, such as the number of walls or other material in the paths of the transmitting and receiving devices. For outdoor use, obstacles can be foliage or other buildings.

5. What is the certification process for CBRS systems? If we would like to adopt CBRS spectrum 3.5 GHz, is SAS mandatory for a country different from the USA where they don’t have CBRS authority? If yes, which organization should take care of that?

Daniel Quant, MultiTech: The CBRS Alliance has an active certification workgroup and scheme approving CBSDs and high-power customer-premises equipment (CPE) capable of 30 dBm output power. The CBRS alliance certification scheme focuses on testing the interface between the SAS and the CBSD, and the CPE by proxy. In short, confirming a SAS grant is accurately configured within the CBSD and shutdown commands and timers are accurately implemented.

Currently, only the CBRS band in the U.S. mandates a SAS entity to share and manage access to spectrum. Other countries may follow suit in spectrum bands allocated for shared use in the future.

6. Could we discuss the exchange of voice and data traffic from private LTE networks with major cellular providers? Is there a standard agreement one can participate in to get traffic on and off the private networks to public ones?

Safi Khan, Telit: Roaming agreements between the private network owner and the mobile network operator can manage voice and data traffic exchange. There are many ways of transitioning from one network to another, as defined in the 3GPP specification. The two networks are LTE networks, and their EPC consists of standard interfaces for managing user authentication, credentials, and voice and data traffic. The main challenge is to transition seamlessly so that the user doesn’t experience service interruption. Technically, it is feasible; however, it depends on the two network entities’ business arrangement.

7. 3 GHz will not penetrate buildings very well. Won’t that limit the ability to be ubiquitous?

Safi Khan, Telit: CBRS spectrum is considered mid-band. It doesn’t penetrate as well as the low-band LTE networks or Wi-Fi in 2.4 GHz. Still, most Wi-Fi networks today operate primarily in 5 GHz instead of 2.4. Most new devices prefer 5 GHz. So, when you compare CBRS 3.5 GHz to Wi-Fi in 5 GHz, CBRS has better penetration.

Moreover, CBRS devices can transmit at a higher power than Wi-Fi, so the coverage is much better. CBRS can reach ubiquitous coverage using Class B devices that transmit up to 50 Watts in outdoor scenarios and combine Class A devices for indoor coverage at 1 Watt transmit power. Compared to low-band LTE, CBRS in mid-band can achieve the same coverage by deploying a denser network than LTE. LTE networks are primarily covering outdoor areas, and users frequently experience inadequate LTE coverage indoors. CBRS mid-band indoors can complement LTE networks, and a neutral host model can offer indoor cellular coverage to mobile operators.

8. What is the advantage of CBRS private LTE over private LTE based on 900 MHz or another band in terms of range, throughput/bandwidth and specific applications?

Safi Khan, Telit: The range of 900 MHz networks is longer than that of CBRS, so 900 MHz networks are more suitable for covering vast areas like utilities. Throughput and bandwidth of CBRS networks are faster than 900 MHz, so services like video are only possible over CBRS networks, whereas 900 MHz can operate narrowband voice, and lower-rate data access is more suitable for mission-critical services.

9. Which industries seem to be most aggressively embracing CBRS as this new technology begins its rollout?

Safi Khan, Telit: The list is quite extensive and growing fast. The most prominent evidence of this is the recent conclusion of the FCC PAL Auction 105 for CBRS spectrum, which reached $4.5 billion in proceeds. There were 271 companies bidding. Most of the verticals deploying consist of the following:

  • Mining
  • Large retail
  • Events sites
  • Stadiums
  • Oil and gas
  • Military bases
  • Power generation
  • Transport venues
  • Airports and ports
  • Hospitals and labs
  • Quarries
  • Water utilities
  • University campuses
  • Warehouses
  • Industrial and manufacturing

10. How do we apply CBRS private LTE to the network deployment of a healthcare facility?

Safi Khan, Telit: There is a robust OnGo ecosystem already established. Many players in the slide below can help you get started and achieve your goal of deploying a CBRS network to a healthcare facility.

OnGo Ecosystem

To learn more about CBRS and private LTE, watch a replay of our webinar, “Why OnGo Dedicated Cellular CBRS Networks are a Game Changer for Commercial and Industrial Enterprises.” See what private LTE can do for your business by requesting a sample of the world’s first Gigabit LTE data card.