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Why the Apple iPhone 11 Supports CBRS

The initial commercial deployment (ICD) of Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) has been a long time coming. And now consumers can add Apple to the list of devices that now supports CBRS Band 48.

What is the CBRS Band 48?

The CBRS Band 48 offers the right balance between coverage and capacity. The transmissions can travel miles, penetrate buildings and carry a large amount of data. This is why opening up Band 48 is such a big break through. Also, because it is earlier than planned. The FCC said that it would hold the 3.5GHz auction starting in June 2020. But here we are 7 months early with this news.

In the US, the CBRS Band 48 is often referred to as the private LTE band (the 4G mobile communications standard). Before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened up the band, it was identified as a shared wireless private broadband.

CBRS Band 48 is 150 MHz of spectrum. It ranges from 3550-3700 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which opens up the LTE spectrum currently used in the US. LTE was designed to work across a range of 450 MHz to 3.8GHz, so this expansion is a big deal for the wireless communications industry.

The CBRS band is a three-tiered sharing system. It is divided among three parties, including:

  • Federal users like the US Navy
  • Operators that will use auctioned Priority Access Licenses (PALs)
  • Unlicensed General Authorized Access (GAA)

The GAA access is what is available to wireless carriers (like AT&T and Verizon), public venues, property managers and others looking to improve wireless networks and services.

What are the benefits of CBRS?

The benefits of the CBRS spectrum cover many markets and applications. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Making private LTE wireless networks economically and technically convenient
  • Better performance than Wi-Fi
  • Offering the use of spectrum without cost that can be used for many purposes
  • Using the most advanced Spectrum Access System (SAS) ever developed
  • No requirement for “listen-before-talk” to sense a device’s spectral environment before it starts a transmission
  • Allowing wireless carriers to add coverage and capacity
  • Allowing wireless carriers to boost data rates on a licensed or unlicensed basis (or both)
  • Provides an alternative for IoT connectivity at the “long-range level”
  • Changing the way Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are owned and operated by neutral hosts.
  • Uses existing technologies, like LTE and even Wi-Fi and other technologies that are “digital” and comply with FCC rules.

Who else supports Band 48?

Both AT&T and Verizon have plans to launch commercial services in 3.5GHz. AT&T is partnered with CommScope and Samsung to fixed wireless services in CBRS. For the past year, Verizon has already been deploying phones and network equipment to use CBRS to improve LTE network speeds and performance.

Other devices, like Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 and Google Pixel 3, support LTE Band 48 already, which is equivalent to CBRS. Until recently, it was unclear if Apple would also support the band.

With the release of the new Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple users can now enjoy this new spectrum for 4G and 5G services.

To learn more about the latest in technology and stay up-to-date on evolving trends, check out the Actiontec Blog!


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