Shared spectrum solutions
The concept of shared spectrum is gaining increasing interest around the world, and particularly in the US, where initiatives such as CBRS and Multefire are driving uptake. Quortus’ ECX Core scalable, disaggregated core network solution is an ideal fit in these situations – in fact we have been commercially deploying solutions in deregulated spectrum since 2011.
What is shared spectrum?
Industry analyst Senza Fili quotes the following definition: “Spectrum sharing is the simultaneous usage of a specific radio frequency band in a specific geographical area by a number of independent entities, leveraged through mechanisms other than traditional multiple- and random-access techniques.”
How can shared spectrum help?
What this means in practice is that a range of individuals and organizations can put in place their own solutions for cellular connectivity – most often via LTE, but sometimes also via 3G or 2G – without the need to own spectrum. This capability has a substantial impact in a number of areas:
- Industrial IoT applications such as manufacturing automation, shipping ports, oil & gas and power generation plants
- Small cell densification for carriers and operators
- Indoor network extension for operators
- Managed service / neutral host models
- Convention centers and sports facilities
- Last mile / fixed wireless access (FWA)
- Backhaul and other point-to-point applications
Quortus solutions for CBRS and shared spectrum
Shared spectrum applications are a major target application for ECX Core, Quortus’ scalable core network (EPC) solution. Our software is designed to run on any target hardware platform: it can be embedded in a single-chip eNodeB solution, run on an off-the-shelf mini-computer, or be disaggregated and virtualized anywhere in the network.
This flexibility allows network services to be defined and delivered where they are needed – close to the user. Local traffic can be kept local, offloading the operator network and delivering an architecture with high security and low latency. Dedicated, low-cost EPC elements or slices provide an ideal solution for handling machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT traffic.
We can also provide a choice of usage-based or per-connection commercial models, allowing you to get up and running quickly, with the opportunity to scale cost-effectively to the large numbers of nodes required for IoT applications.
Standards-compliant roaming interfaces and an integrated aggregation feature further increase flexibility, providing the option of creating entirely private networks, or allowing in- and out-roaming to a macro network, and the handling of traffic for multiple remote sites.
CBRS is gaining momentum
CBRS in the US is perhaps the most familiar example of a co-ordinated shared spectrum scheme. Based on 150MHz of spectrum around the 3.5GHz range and 500MHz of capacity in the Wi-Fi 5GHz band, CBRS enables three tiers of usage: existing incumbents, such as the military or satellite communication; priority access licenses (PALs), which pay for a slice of spectrum at a particular location; and general authorized access (GAA), which allows others to opportunistically use spectrum as and when available. This third usage tier effectively allows users to freely employ spectrum when it is not in use by higher tier users.
CBRS includes a spectrum access system – a control mechanism that dynamically authorizes and manages spectrum use, in real time. Interworking specifications for this are under the control of the Wireless Innnovation Forum. The CBRS Alliance, of which Quortus is an adopter member, is establishing a product certification program that will ensure multi-vendor interoperability.
Case study: City of Zaanstad
This “community of interest” solution in The Netherlands serves local enterprises and a local government center. Deployment includes more than 40 small cells that serve 1500 users, with PBX integration, presence-based services and roaming.
Case study: factory IoT
This private cellular IoT deployment serves a highly secure factory application. It provides M2M connectivity which is retained on a secure local LAN, and implements cellular handset connectivity with MNO interconnect.
Small cells are deployed using MNO spectrum: cellular users are connected back to the MNO core, while IoT devices connect to a private PLMN which ECX Core diverts to a private LAN. The solution is easily adapted for a neutral-hosted RAN architecture, with ECX Core supporting MNO interconnects.