Advanced RF Technologies says it is the first distributed antenna systems provider to launch support for the 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum bands. This week the California company said its DAS now supports both Citizens Broadband Radio Service and License-Assisted Access.
The nationwide wireless carriers are testing CBRS and LAA to augment indoor capacity, but the bigger opportunity for ADRF may be with enterprise buyers of its new solutions. Right now many commercial property owners and corporations are unwilling to invest in cellular equipment because they can’t be sure the carriers will supply connections to their networks. CBRS could give enterprise buyers a way to create their own on-premise LTE networks, giving them more independence and control.
The outlook for CBRS depends in part on how the Federal Communications Commission decides to allocate this spectrum. The government plans to allow commercial users to share the spectrum with current users, which include the Department of Defense and some fixed satellite service providers. The right to share this spectrum will be assigned through an auction process, and the government has not finalized licensing terms yet. Longer-term licenses covering large swaths of spectrum would make CBRS more attractive to wireless carriers, while shorter-term licenses covering smaller geographies would favor enterprise buyers.
Whichever way the auctions go, CBRS is expected to lower the costs of in-building cellular connectivity. Likewise, License-Assisted Access will help operators a way to boost in-building capacity without using as much of their expensive licensed spectrum. LAA uses the unlicensed 5 GHz band to transmit and receive LTE signals.
“These innovations will unify and converge in-building systems to a multi-technology connectivity RAN operating over licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum,” said analyst Nick Marshall of ABI Research. “In-building wireless systems and ownership stand at the threshold of significant fundamental changes.”
Marshall said that in addition to lower costs, CBRS may offer new market players an opportunity to offer cellular services. Cable operators are usually seen as the most likely new entrants into the wireless market, and several are already offering service through agreements with existing carriers.
According to ADRF, cable operators are also looking at wireless as an alternative to fiber as they expand their high-speed internet offerings for corporate customers. The DAS provider hopes its new CBRS equipment will help it expand its client base to include cable operators.