CBRS Private LTE

In modern life wireless communication plays a very important role in everybody’s life. But due to the coverage limitations when public LTE and Wi-Fi networks are not available or not working well due to capacity issues, organisations in the U.S. are looking at the option of Private LTE network which is based on CBRS which stands for Citizen Broadband Radio Service(CBRS) to fulfil their requirements.

What is CBRS?

CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service is a lightly licensed band which features a dynamic range spectrum access system (SAS) that is used to manage the allocation of frequencies in this shared range.

CBRS is a unique approach that enables most effective use of  available resources and decreases the occurrences of co-channel and adjacent-channel interference and also affords a three-tiered access priority arrangement. 

The CBRS band is lightly licensed because each CBRS domain must include a spectrum access system, the SAS interfaces with an environmental sensing capability (ESC) system that can automatically detect the use of radar in a specific area.

CBRS can be used for 4G LTE, CBRS is ideally suited to deliver fixed or mobile 5G new radio (5G NR). especially CBRS is used by enterprise IT providers to build-out a private LTE network that can support large warehouse facilities, sports stadiums and remote mines. 

CBRS can replace existing distributed antenna systems, providing high speed data offload and in-building coverage. And this is mainly important when deploying 5GNR in the GHz spectrum, where CBRS can offset the significant signal degradation experienced when traversing general construction materials. 

The components supporting CBRS antenna in a particular case or a MIMO system, is referred to as a Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device(CBSD).

Each CBSD’s registers with a SAS and subsequently requests its spectrum grant. The CSBD should also identify  its unique geolocation, height, whether it is deployed indoors or outside. 

Difference Between Private LTE And CBRS

Private LTE

A Private LTE network offers performance and reliability that public LTE or Wi-Fi alone cant provide and at a very low cost.

Private LTE provides uninterrupted connectivity along with the ability to handle heavy traffic loads like data coming from lots of IoT devices. And Private LTE provides excellent penetration, with the ability to reach through building walls and other obstacles that might block a Wi-Fi signal.

Private LTE networks are based on the same protocols that public LTE  networks use today. In Private LTE network data never leaves the customer’s network. 


CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service is a new Private LTE network option available in the U.S. CBRS occupies 150MHz of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz C-band, which is also known as Band 48(B48). 

This band had been reserved for users in the U.S. military and fixed satellite service. But this spectrum has recently been approved for broader use by the FCC, which offers opportunities for a range of new applications. 

In CBRS Spectrum allocation is tiered with two relevant tiers for LTE usage:

  1. Priority Access Licences “PAL”

 are non-renewable authorization to use a 10 MHz channel within the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the band. Each PAL is awarded in a competitive bid process.

  1. General Authorised Access “GAA”

GAA are dynamically allocated 10 MHz channels within the 3550-3700 MHz portion of the band that do not conflict with any priority access licences. Any census tract can have from 80-100 MHz available for GAA usage depending on assigned PALs.

What is CBRS LTE?

The word CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service. CBRS is a block of spectrum in 3.5GHz with a range of 150MHz to share wireless access. The radio interface is the same as LTE in the licensed spectrum or in the unlicensed 5GHz band, the only difference with CBRS lies in spectrum assignment. 

CBRS is used to lower the barrier to entry for non-traditional wireless carriers. The propagation characteristics of the 3.5GHZ spectrum plays very nicely for indoor, floor-by-floor deployment options which are rival current for Wi-Fi networks.

Because of the lower cost of PALs as compared to licensed spectrum costs, private operators now have access to 150MHz of spectrum on every floor. 

What is Private CBRS LTE

Private CBRS LTE or it is also known as Band 48 is a 150MHz of prime RF real estate between 3.55GHz and 3.7GHz recently made available by the US government with a three-tiered approach to sharing.

Private CBRS LTE is affordable, high-performance indoor and outdoor private LTE networks that are not owned by the cellular carriers. 

CBRS LTE shares three tiers concept, below are the details:

1. Incumbent

Incumbent users like the Department of Defense have prioritised access to the band anywhere, at any time.

Although their use is coordinated in such a way that minimises impacts to commercial users through a network of Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESCs) and Spectrum Access System (SASs).

Existing users such as US Navy Radar, DoD personnel get permanent priority as well as site-specific protection for registered sites.

2. Private Access Licences(PAL)

Priority Access Licence (PAL) provides guaranteed access to spectrum for enhanced Quality of Service applications and will be treated in the similar manner as licensed spectrum at a greatly reduced cost.

Private Access Licence can be leased by anyone in 10MHz increment for 3-6 years and also are restricted geographically to enable local implementations.  Organisations can pay a fee to request up to four PALs in a limited geographic area for three years. 

3. General Authorised Access (GAA)

Apart above two the rest of the spectrum will be open to GAA use and coexistence issues will be determined by SAS providers for spectrum allocation.

General Authorised Access (GAA) is the bottom tier of CBRS and provides free access to anyone.

The same as unlicensed  spectrum does today but in a much cleaner RF environment because it doesn’t suffer from the high levels of congestion associated with WiFi in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. 

What Will CBRS be Used For?

Citizens Broadband Radio Service is wireless spectrum in the 3.5GHz band that is used for building private LTE networks and for extending public 4G and 5G services. CBRS enables organisations to build their own private 4G/5G networks. 

CBRS is a band of radio-frequency spectrum that ranges from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designated among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority licensees and general authorised access which is lightly licensed than others.

CBRS can be used to extend coverage and capacity of 4G LTE and 5G networks. Moreover CBRS can be used by building-management companies that need to communicate wirelessly with on-site devices.

Organisations could use the CBRS spectrum to set up their own 4G and 5G networks through which they could connect their IoT devices including factory robots. The CBRS service will work for both outdoors as well as indoors. 

The main uses for CBRS spectrum are:

1. Macro Extension

Macro extension provides additional wireless capacity for carriers’ macro networks, especially in urban areas.

2. Privately-owned And Operated Mobile Networks

Privately owned and operated mobile networks are for enterprises and municipalities.

3. Fixed Wireless Access

Fixed wireless access is used for backhaul. 

Is CBRS Part Of 5G?

Citizens Broadband Radio Service can be used for 4G LTE, CBRS is ideally suited for delivering fixed or mobile 5G new radio (5GNR). 

Specifically, Citizens Broadband Radio Service can be employed by enterprise IT providers to build-out a private LTE network system that is used to support large warehouse facilities, like sports stadiums and remote mines. 

CBRS can be used to replace already existing distributed antenna systems, which can provide high-speed data offload and in-building coverage. This feature will be important for deploying 5GNR in the GHz spectrum, where CBRS can offset the significant signal degradation experienced when traversing general construction materials. 

Either supporting LTE or 5GNR, standalone CBRS implementations that support private mobile services, for example, are ideal candidates for a modern 5G core (5GC) data infrastructure. 

When deployed by using totally cloud native methodologies with complete control and user plane separation, 5GC components can be deployed dynamically and managed in lightweight Linux container environments within public, private or hybrid data centres. 

The CBRS band enables enterprises to build private mobile networks with customizable configurations and performance characteristics. 5G is at the forefront of those speeds that enable ultra-low latency, higher capacity, and roughly four times quicker speeds than 4G.

As 5G network is publicly available by mobile network operators in its early stages, CBRS spectrum band lays the groundwork for business to produce their own public mobile networks that can take benefits of 5G capabilities if it’s not already available in the area. 

The 5G CBRS network will bring better and improved performance that can allow companies to stream high-quality video footage, communicate and control devices at low latency, and can trace moving appliances with high accuracy. 

Private 5G over CBRS spectrum in the United States gives organisations and businesses more control and privacy over their data than their commercial networks. While commercial networks are convenient, their fees are subject to change without warning, and data security can not be guaranteed.

Due to the lack of cost, effective access to public mobile networks makes it challenging to build and scale services for the long term.

CBRS v/s WiFi

WiFi is the most popular wireless technology in which radio waves are used to provide wireless high-speed internet and network connections. 

The term WiFi means IEEE 802.11x, and WiFi is not actually short for “Wireless Fidelity”, despite common perception.

WiFi networks are used to provide a connection between sender and receiver through a radio frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum associated with radio wave propagation. 

In WiFi no physical wired connection is used . WiFi is a WLAN network, which means a local area network distribution method for two or more devices that use high-frequency radio waves.

On the other hand, CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service is an LTE wireless network, which means long-term evolution, which is a standard for wireless broadband communication that increases speed and capability using a different radio interface and core network improvements. 

CBRS was created by the FCC for shared wireless broadband use of the 3550-3700 MHz band. CBRS is beneficial for the defence agencies and industrial applications and improved indoor applications where there is a shortage of reliable frequency.

And when we compare CBRS and WiFi, it’s recognized that CBRS provides greater performance than WiFi because CBRS is a licensed spectrum and not shared.

Below are the main Differences between CBRS and Wifi:

Parameters                WiFi                  CBRS
NetworkWiFi is a wireless network used to deploy only in homes and small offices. CBRS was built for the large-scale industrial and commercial use and to fulfil the shortcomings of WiFi.
SecurityWiFi can be easily targeted by hackers because WiFi is a wireless shared spectrum that is much more open to eavesdroppers than private networks.CBRS is a Private Network which is much more secure than a shared network. To gain access to the network CBRS requires a SIM card.
TrafficWiFi can’t differentiate different classes of traffic. Either it’s a critical video feed or low-priority file download.CBRS has built in Quality of Service(QoS), which is used for prioritisation based on the application. 
SpectrumWiFi operates at either 2.4 or 5GHz. Both bands are a shared, unlicensed spectrum. CBRS runs in the 3.5GHz band. CBRS is a licensed spectrum that recently became available and offers a robust mechanism.


CBRS stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service is a band i.e. band 48 of radio frequency spectra from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz for 3 types of users. Below are the details of users:

  1. Incumbent Users 
  2. Priority Access Licensees 
  3. General Authorised Access 

At the start, the CBRS band was reserved for use by the U.S Department of Defense, like U.S Navy Radar systems. But in 2015, the FCC i.e. The Federal Communications Commission dubbed the 3.5GHz band as the “innovation band” to be opened up to new mobile users.

After that the “innovation band” is now known as CBRS. CBRS opens up a major opportunity to unlicensed users and organisations who want to use 5G, LTE, or even 3GPP spectra to establish their own private mobile networks. 

Every CBRS domain contains a Spectrum Access System (SAS). the SAS system is used to connects to FCC i.e. Federal Communications Commission databases and incumbent reporting systems. The SAS also interfaces with Environmental Sensing Capability(ESC) systems. ESC systems automatically detect radar use in a particular area.

Either component supporting a CBRS antenna or antenna array is the Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (CBSD). 

The CBSD also identifies its unique geolocation, height, indoor or outdoor status, and unique call sign registered with the FCC. The CBSD and SAS communicate through Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure(HTTPS), with each message encoded via JavaScript Object Notation(JSON).

To prevent interference across the three tiers, the SAS acts as a frequency coordinator that prioritises access between the Incumbent, Priority Access, and General Access Tiers. 

CBRS Devices

CBRS devices can operate within the CBRS gateway and are installed on houses and businesses to help in sending video, voice, data, and IoT communications to a wired access network. 

CBRS devices communicate with a router that acts as a gateway to provide Band 48 devices that operate within the 4G and 5G frameworks. 

These devices use 3.6 GHz frequencies. CBRS is also supported by all the new cellular phones, such as Apple iPhones and Google Pixels. Laptops from Hewlett Packyard, Dell, and Lenovo as well as tablets from Apple, Samsung, and Zebra also support this band. 

CBRS Auctions

CBRS auctions allow companies to compete for Priority Access Licences or PAL. While these only make up a fraction of the equation, they are an important part.  PAL auctions are good for bigger as well as smaller companies. 

GAA: General Authorised Access Spectrum

General Authorised Access spectrum is the most commonly used aspect of CBRS and that is free for everyone. Anyone who wants to use it can use it as long as they are not impacting those with PAL licences, incumbent users, and those who are using it for military purposes. 

GAA is the spectrum that is used by the FCC to provide people with internet upgrades and internet access when they cannot afford it on their own.

Spectrum Access System 

Spectrum Access System makes sure that every user has good access to the spectrum and that the access is appropriate. The Spectrum Access System also works to provide frequency and service protection for their respective users.

CBRS Modem 

Lanner’s PGN600 LTE module which is an LTE Ready Radio Modem that is used for Mission-Critical Communications. 

The PGN600 module adds full support for private LTE CBRS band 48 and public safety-oriented frequencies and is also compatible with Lanner’s communication and security gateways for vehicles, industrial communication and IIoT.

Use Cases Of CBRS 

CBRS is an exciting development that brings new flexibility to mobile connectivity. 

There are various use cases of CBRS that are listed below:

1. Wireless Capacity In Urban Markets: 

CBRS spectrum has an important impact in the mobile network market, providing capacity for both 4G LTE and 5G networks. The 3.5GHz spectrum available in CBRS will increase the wireless capacity in highly populated areas. 

CBRS mid-band spectrum will enable businesses, industrial applications, and consumers to take advantage of faster 4G LTE and 5G across a wider area.

2. Fixed Wireless Broadband For Rural Markets

The 3.5GHz spectrum present in CBRS will increase the ability for people living and working in rural areas to have access to reliable, high-speed internet.

Fixed wireless access (FWA) uses cellular technology instead of fibre to provide high-speed broadband internet access powered by antennas installed at the service location like home or office. 

3. Private Wireless Networks

Commercial organisations, universities, and others in the public sector are expected to benefit from CBRS spectrum which is used to provide a private wireless network for business and industrial operations, which will be crucial in cases where Wi-Fi or previous existing cellular networks have proven unreliable and ineffective. 

Private wireless networks enabled by 3.5GHz spectrum can provide advantage to WISPs and cable companies to gain more subscribers in areas where service was not available before.

CBRS also provides the additional connectivity and reliability needed for industrial IoT, smart factories, and other applications which depend on increased capacity and coverage.