CBRS in the Micro MNO and Enterprise

For those of you that don’t know: MNO is a Mobile Network Operator. It could be Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, or any of the other carriers out there.

Today, thanks to the release of the CBRS band by the FCC and the LTE format being used on it, we can have smaller MNOs. 

You see, the CBRS models have a revolutionary licensing system called the SAS. That means you don’t need to spend billions of dollars before buying one piece of equipment just to enter the carrier space. 

The thing is, now we have many players that can enter the carrier market with a meaningful piece of the spectrum. I don’t mean Wi-Fi, I mean something with power that can be used privately or has the capability to roam to a carrier. 

Is it just about small carriers?

No. The thing is, the micro MNO won’t just be all about carriers. It’s going to allow some very small carriers to serve are areas where the larger carriers didn’t want to invest. There are many areas where big carriers just don’t want to serve because the payback isn’t what they want. 

Case and point, Alaska and several islands around Hawaii.

How do we solve this issue? We let someone local with an interest in the area and the people do the work. 

While I brought up two extreme cases, there are pockets of dead zones all over the USA where Verizon and AT&T don’t want to cover. 

That’s something that the FirstNet build exposed. AT&T is partnering with smaller MNOs to deploy in those areas. Just because you have coverage on your device doesn’t mean that it’s your carrier providing the service. Look how Sprint’s coverage is sliced and diced. They heavily rely on their smaller partners to fill the dead zones in rural areas. 

Now, with this network, the big carriers may not have to build indoors. In fact, they can let the enterprise do the work.

How will the Enterprise fill indoor gaps?

It’s simple, they will build private LTE systems. Verizon is already rolling out enterprise solutions. It makes sense. AT&T will be doing the same thing. 

Let the enterprise build their private LTE system that can roam into the larger carrier’s core. It’s a great partnership that lessens the financial burden on the larger carrier.

Let the enterprise pay for the system so they can keep it private and secure. So that no one will roam onto a hostile Wi-Fi system by accident. This private LTE can serve any device that has the CBRS spectrum in it. 

It’s a new option for everyone who can invest. They can use any equipment they want as long as they connect to a SAS provider and roam onto a partner’s core. 

There are other core options if the enterprise or private MNO does not want to invest. Companies like Geoverse are pushing the idea of a shared core that can roam. 

There are Core-as-a-Service companies out there that you can use. It saves a lot of money upfront and allows your company to scale as required. 

By the way, who has the most to gain by having coverage indoors? The company so that their employees are connected all the time.

Think of safety, with voice available through VoLTE, then the e911 issue is resolved throughout the building. 

If it’s carrier LTE it will be much more secure than Wi-Fi, it’s carrier-grade. It’s something that has not been easily hacked. 

There are a lot of advantages to an enterprise doing it themselves;

  • Secure network
  • LTE which is a proprietary format
  • Coverage the way you want it
  • Soon to be in all mobile network devices and smartphones
  • Enterprise will control the network, end to end
  • Can push it outside to the parking lot 
  • Can roam devices off to the carrier once your people leave the building or travel, keeping remote connectivity
  • Very secure.

It makes sense from their perspective. They have control. They can still offload to Wi-Fi, and they have complete control.

Is it really a win for the carriers?

I have been dealing with carriers and they are getting tired of deploying indoor DAS and small cells when the payback is small. Now they have a way to get someone else to build the network and still partner with them to have a large customer served. 

Carriers can provide the solution and sell it to the customer for a fee, making money by offering a solution.

The solution can be whatever the enterprise wants it to be, not what the carrier dictates. 

The carrier makes money off the service regardless. They are offloading traffic, and their initial investment upfront is taken care of by the enterprise. 

What enterprise businesses would see this as a viable solution?

Larger enterprises would have the money and relationships to do this. Someone who would rent several floors in a building. Someone who cares about having a very secure network. Someone who has the money to support a large private network.

That could be any financial firm in a major city or even a corporate headquarters for a national or worldwide business. 

They have the need for coverage, security, and control. It makes sense to see them adopt this new model almost immediately. Probably as soon as it is commercially viable.

Could mmwave offer a solution?

I see it as a solution and one that would be amazing, assuming an indoor product can be made. The bandwidth alone would make it a viable alternative to Wi-Fi 6. It would offer gigabit speeds as a default. Think about what could be done with that much spectrum indoors? 

We are already seeing it being deployed at stadiums. 

The idea behind mmwave was to be used as an FWA solution. To me, indoors is the ultimate solution for something with that limited coverage.

Yet, the carriers and OEMs are treating it as an afterthought. Why is that?

It doesn’t seem to be a safety concern according to NYU. 

Years ago offices were installing infrared emitters at waist level to get faster speeds in offices wirelessly. It seemed so amazing back then. No concern for your eyes, but it is still being used today.

Today, Wi-Fi is so easy and cheap. I don’t see it being replaced except for a specific reason. Like security. That’s where the enterprise will fall. They want a very secure network that has more than internet connectivity. 


Yes, security matters in more ways than we know. The carriers do a good job of keeping out devices as secure as they can.

Oh sure, Apple and Google know everything you do. Maybe even Huawei, but the real threat is no longer the network, it’s the people and companies you let in the network.

Do you really trust Google and Apple? They have a majority of devices out there and their clouds back all of them up. They know everything.

Google Pay, Apple Pay, what more is needed to be said?

Also, think of all the stupid things that people do. Not you, of course, but those other idiots that allow malware to creep in. That’s the real threat.

That’s why I wrote this article, https://wade4wireless.com/2020/02/09/cybersecurity-and-bad-choices/ about ways to cut down and eliminate problems by being proactive. 

Let me ask you something, wh3en is the last time you heard of an LTE or 5G system getting hacked? Now, when is the last time you heard of a Wi-Fi system getting hacked?

OK, let’s go farther, when is the last time you heard of a server with credit card numbers getting hacked because of someone allowing their password to get out?

Hacking the network is less important than hacking something with real money and data. 

When someone hacks a person, they are usually after the bigger fish. Sure, they may drain that $200 you have in your PayPal account, but the real money is in the real goal for most hackers is to get millions of credit card numbers, passwords, and data. That’s where the big bucks lie.

Now, with that said, you always have those personal attacks. Like when the Russians were accused of hacking Hillary Clinton’s email. Or when the Chinese hacked hundreds of businesses to gain financial and patent information, https://www.technologyreview.com/f/610850/china-has-been-hacking-american-ip-again/ just to keep us on our toes.

That crazy Chinese government spies and hacks anything just to gain information. I don’t know why when they can just buy products and reverse engineer it just to sell it back to us. Their goal was to catch up to the US by any means possible. You have to admire their goal. Wait until the people get tired of communism and fight for freedom! I believe that the day is near. That is another subject for another day.


Have a great day!

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