Key Devices & Applications are Necessary to Reap the Many Benefits of Using CBRS Instead of WiFi
The possibilities for Private LTE and shared spectrum such as CBRS in enterprise networking are deep and wide — especially as a secure, consistent, high-performance, and cost-effective alternative to WiFi in large areas such as mines, ports, warehouses, airports, manufacturing plants, and even cities. However, many companies ask the same initial question: “What type of infrastructure do I need to build a Private LTE Network?”
Deploying Private LTE involves an ecosystem of partners and equipment that is much more than just a cloud-managed LTE router, although this is a crucial component of a larger solution. Beyond the endpoint, organizations have various hardware; on-premises servers, applications, and services; and public cloud services to consider. Below we will cover each of the components that make up a Private LTE network.
User Equipment (UE) or Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)
Typically, enterprises need a router that complies with the FCC Part 96 authorization for CBRS. This authorization ensures that a router will comply with any changes in frequency that are coming from the citizen broadband radio service devices (CBSDs) due to actions from the spectrum allocation server (SAS).
Citizen Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs)
These are the small cells that actually produce radio waves. Many technology partners produce CBSDs, which are similar to WiFi access points but have a much longer range — thus requiring far fewer pieces of hardware.
Element Management System/Server (EMS)
The EMS is the management system for the Private LTE network. Usually, this is provided by the CBSD vendor, but it also can be delivered by the enhanced packet core (EPC) provider. This management system can either be managed by the end-user organization or offered as a service by a managed service provider (MSP).
Enhanced Packet Core (EPC)
EPCs provide IP data routing to other UEs or the local network on the back end. All traffic from the Private LTE network has to go to the EPC for routing. Providers can offer either cloud-based or on-premises EPCs, depending on the end user’s preferences. Some even provide a hybrid cloud and on-premises solution. This is a critical piece to consider because the applications that run on the Private LTE network may only need to stay on the private network and not go to the cloud.
Spectrum Allocation Server (SAS)
The SAS is used to control the power and frequencies used by the CBSD radios. The U.S. Navy has priority on all CBRS channels. Those who purchase priority access license frequencies in the FCC spectrum auction have priority access to their channels whenever the Navy isn’t using them.
Finally, the general populace can use any frequencies that aren’t in use. The FCC will be auctioning off up to seven 10 MHz channels per county for priority access, with a single entity only able to purchase up to four PALs. The remaining eight or more 10 MHz channels will be available for general access.
Managed Service Provider (MSP)
In a Private LTE scenario, an MSP can be leveraged to set up and operate the UE, CBSD, EMS, EPC, and SAS on behalf of the end-user.
UEs such as Cradlepoint’s cloud-delivered LTE routers can provide the reliability, security, high performance, and cost-effectiveness needed in these multifaceted Private LTE deployments. Cradlepoint is actively working with CBSD vendors and the CBRS Alliance to ensure that Private LTE deployments are successful once the Alliance approves initial commercial deployments in fall 2019.
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