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CBRS Alliance gets certification program underway, chooses brand

RCRWireless News

May 8, 2017

How will you know if a wireless device is using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum at 3.5 GHz and interoperates with other such devices? It will be OnGo certified.

CBRS Alliance, taking a page from the interoperability and functional certification that is conducted as part of Wi-Fi certification, has launched the OnGo brand and certification program for CBRS devices and equipment; the group is also holding its annual meeting this week in northern Virginia. Dave Wright, president of CBRS Alliance, said that the OnGo certification and testing program has been in the works for nearly two years — about as long as CBRS Alliance has existed.

“We want to have a very clear and consistent brand for the technology and the services that are being developed within the alliance,” Wright said. “We think [OnGo] is going to become a very recognized word.”

CBRS Alliance’s OnGo certification program will ensure that devices can successfully navigate the dynamic three-tiered CBRS spectrum sharing framework and are interoperable with one another. OnGo’s certification program covers baseline CBRS specifications from the Wireless Innovation Forum and FCC rules around Part 96 operation, Wright said, and CBRS Alliance has also put quite a bit of work into ensuring that TDD-LTE operations can be supported with proper coexistence so that LTE can be used in the band. He noted that the FCC has not limited CBRS use to a specific type of wireless technology, so multiple technologies are likely to be used in the band. The OnGo certification program is launching with support from more than 10 testing labs and CTIA, CBRS Alliance said, and devices will start being accepted this month.

However, there are still some pieces of the CBRS framework that need to be put in place before the technology can really get underway: the industry is still waiting for final authorization from the Federal Communications Commission of Spectrum Access System administrators and Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC), both of which support the three-tiered spectrum sharing approach by providing accurate database information about users in the spectrum and in the case of ESC, sensing the presence of incumbent naval radars along the coast in order to avoid interference. There is also still ongoing debate in the industry about the size and length of term for the Priority Access tier licenses, with mobile carriers mostly favoring larger license tracts and longer terms and other companies, including GE, Google, wireless internet service providers and private industrial users, asking the FCC to keep licenses’ geographic areas small.

According to WinnForum’s anticipated timeline for CBRS development, the group doesn’t expect FCC-certified devices and a SAS with final approval to be available for General Access licenses (GAL, which is the unlicensed portion of the band) until the fourth quarter of 2018 at the earliest. No action on CBRS-related items is expected at this week’s FCC open meeting, according to the meeting agenda.

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