As businesses continue to accelerate their digital transformation plans largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more enterprises are beginning to adopt private networks as part of their strategy. With high performance, reliable connectivity and security features, including the ability for network customization and service-level optimization, private 5G networks are becoming the best option. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 and Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) are also fueling the acceleration.
In late 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a first Mid-Band 5G Auction auction, which generated $4.5 billion from approximately 91% of the spectrum that had been purchased in the US. CBRS is ideal for usage with Private-LTE 4G/5G networks especially for businesses and consumers, operating and living in rural areas with poor coverage from current networks. Some benefits include:
- Improved security – network connections use dedicated radio equipment with CBRS keeping data local
- Available capacity – allows for high capacity applications and a large number of devices concurrently
- Improved mobility and range – allows for high-speed mobility and longer signal range
- Interoperability – devices can communicate with each other regardless of the manufacturer of the device
- Optimization – applications can be customized and improved for a particular industry for services such as Quality of Service (QoS), bandwidth usage, latency requirements, etc.
- Opportunities – new wireless technologies are being developed every day
One of the most notable uses for private CBRS networks is in the education sector. The value of digital “online” education has been brought to the forefront, again by the pandemic. Even post-pandemic, teachers are now more comfortable with using technology and understand the importance of connectivity more so than before. CBRS offers schools and campuses a way to manage their own private LTE networks not just to educate students but also for the ability to communicate with staff across an entire campus.
A new report by Texas-based, iGR a market research company that specializes in the wireless, mobile, and digital infrastructure industry for the last twenty-two years have produced a report on the U.S. Education Private CBRS Network Forecast, 2021-2026 - CBRS Network Build, Integration and App Spending in Education Buildings, aimed at SIs and wireless integrators, solution vendors, mobile operators, infrastructure OEMs, and financial analysts and investors, highlights that “Education buildings in K-12 schools and university campuses are good candidates for private cellular networks, especially those using CBRS. These networks have become a reality largely due to the federal and state money that has been made available via pandemic-related funding. In general, these monies have been used to build out broadband access in school districts to address the digital divide. Meanwhile, colleges and universities are also investing in, and piloting, private cellular networks.”
Spending for three types of in-building private cellular systems using CRBR in US education buildings are included in the five-year forecast. iGR in this report establishes an inbuilding private cellular system as a system that uses the US CBRS band for 4G/5G-based services funded by a third party.
The three types of spending include:
- Network build and operational spending: the costs associated with installing and operating the private CBRS network
- Network/systems integration spending: the costs associated with designing, sourcing equipment, integrating the network and applications, etc.
- Applications: the costs associated with purchasing and licensing the applications that run on the private CBRS network.
The report covers some key areas such as the understanding of a private cellular network and how they can be utilized to create a connected education building or campus. The report also answers questions, in particular, identifying the primary purpose of a connected education building or campus, which types of technologies are required for a connected education building or campus, to more detailed information regarding the spending associated with the building and operating private CBRS networks within the US educational sector.
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Erik Linask