US Wireless Industry Calls for More 5G Spectrum

  • US wireless communication industry body CTIA held its 5G Summit in Washington, DC, on May 17, bringing together industry and government officials.
  • Industry speakers were united in their warning that more spectrum must be auctioned off to keep up with rapid increases in network traffic.
  • Leaders also cautioned that without a clear strategy for spectrum allocation, the US risked losing its leadership position in the wireless industry to competitors like China.

Top officials from the US wireless industry and government gathered in Washington, DC, on May 17 for industry body CTIA’s 5G Summit. Speakers reflected on the impressive progress that has already been made in building out 5G networks and opening new use cases, while also looking forward to the work yet to be done and the challenges facing the industry. There was a palpable sense of optimism about the opportunities that 5G still promises and reminders that in many ways it is still in its early stages. But industry leaders made clear that for 5G to meet its potential, policymakers must do more to support it.

How far 5G has come

Speakers at the event laid plain just how much progress has been made on 5G. By most measures, it has been the most quickly adopted wireless generation yet. Between the low-band, mid-band and mmWave frequencies, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T cover 320 million Americans. And their mid-band rollouts have been swift – AT&T’s Egal Ilbaz noted that the operator would reach 200 million PoPs by the end of the year, while T-Mobile’s Neville Ray noted that the company was closing in on 300 million PoPs.

Midband Pops

*Based off Earnings Call Commentary

5G rollout is quickly transforming how consumers use their devices. It has opened the first killer 5G application – fixed wireless access (FWA). Verizon Business CEO Kyle Malady stated that data consumption is growing faster than it ever has before, partially as users flock to Verizon’s FWA services in available markets, but also as mobile users take advantage of improved bandwidth and lower latency by spending more time streaming video and gaming. 5G has also made FWA a legitimate alternative or supplement to fiber in some markets, especially in rural areas where fiber to the home is too expensive to be a solution. FWA subscriber counts are growing rapidly, with net additions outpacing wireless additions in the first quarter of the year. With great speed, capacity, and low latency, FWA using mid-band 5G provides another strong solution to the toolkit for closing the digital divide.

Where 5G is going next

While 5G has already had a substantial impact on the consumer space, its impact will be the largest in enterprise in the coming years as it powers connected factories, smart cities, connected agriculture, and more. Leaders from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and DISH were all touting the opportunities and flexibility that virtualized, software-defined networks would offer for developers in enterprise, allowing networks to be optimized for the specific needs of the end use case. Distributed computing at the edge will also enable low-latency AI and ML applications for efficiency gains. Progress has been slow in enterprise, and the murky economic environment will discourage some companies from experimenting with 5G to improve their productivity. But with mid-band rollouts nearing completion, the stage is set for 5G to enable the enterprise segment. According to comments made at the event, network operators in China already have over 25,000 orders for private networks. The US is behind here, but that will change in the coming years.

5G Industrial Uses

The wireless industry also has a real chance to narrow the digital divide over the coming decade. The advent of FWA provides an alternative to fiber that in many topographies will be more cost-effective while providing the speeds and capacity needed to connect rural communities, enabling commerce, education, and many other activities. But as Senator Lujan of New Mexico noted, the industry must do more to make sure that underserved communities are not left behind and push to close the digital divide through programs like the affordable connectivity program for low-income Americans.

Challenges facing wireless industry

While there are major opportunities for 5G, there are also barriers to reaching its potential. The biggest challenge may be growing geopolitical tensions between the US and China. Leaders from Samsung and Ericsson warned that state subsidies for Chinese infrastructure players make them very difficult to beat on price, leading many countries to opt for Chinese providers for their wireless networks. Additionally, the Chinese state’s clear and aggressive strategy for rolling out 5G has given it a lead and Chinese network operators and enterprises are gaining practical experience in implementing new use cases before Western countries. This will give Chinese companies a significant competitive advantage over their Western counterparts and a head start in creating the platforms of the next decade. Looking further down the road towards 6G, geopolitical tensions and decoupling between the US and China could result in a split standard, which would hurt the whole industry by reducing scale and interoperability. More consequently, this would undermine global growth. The US must work alongside allies across the globe to retain a single standard from which all can benefit.

Data Consumption

*Based off of AT&T Comments at CTIA 5G Summit

To confront these challenges, industry leaders were united in calling on US policymakers to reauthorize the FCC to hold spectrum auctions and open more spectrum for operators. Already, the rate of data consumption is growing quickly, while spectrum is also needed for new enterprise use cases. But just giving the FCC the authority to hold spectrum auctions is not enough – the US government must deliver a clear plan and strategy for when spectrum will become available so that operators, component and hardware providers, and businesses can prepare beforehand to make use of this spectrum. The haphazard and inconsistent nature of US spectrum auctions puts the country’s industry at a disadvantage compared to China.

In conclusion

5G has come a long way over the last several years, but there is still work to be done and opportunities to be actualized. In order to reach underserved communities, serve enterprises and compete effectively on the global stage, more spectrum must be opened to operators and a clear schedule and strategy for spectrum allocation articulated. For the US to retain its leading role in the wireless industry, policymakers and the industry must work hand in hand.

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Cox Launches Mobile Service in 19 US States to its 7 Million Subscribers

  • Cable player competition in the mobile service arena has increased in the US with Cox Communications announcing its Cox Mobile offering during CES 2023.
  • Cox Mobile is launching nationwide to its 7 million broadband subscribers in 19 states with a by-the-Gig $15 plan and an unlimited $45 plan per line.
  • Cox Mobile will use Verizon’s network as an MVNO while also offloading to its 4 million hotspots.
  • Cable net-adds will continue to grow strongly as customers look to bundle and save money.

America’s third-largest cable internet provider Cox Communications announced its Cox Mobile service during CES 2023. The service will run on Verizon’s network and be available for its 7 million broadband customers nationwide. Cox covers around 7% of US households, parts of 19 states and Washington DC. Cox is following the footsteps of other cable players, like Comcast’s Xfinity Wireless, Charter’s Spectrum Mobile and Altice’s Optimum. June 2022 saw the launch of WOW! Mobile, which runs on Reach Wireless.

Cable’s growing mobile presence

Cable companies have steadily increased their mobile subscriber penetration over the years. When looking at combined net adds, they have captured the highest amount of postpaid net-adds in Q3 2022, with 734,000 altogether between Xfinity, Spectrum and Optimum. Postpaid carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, while initially not concerned, are now starting to pay closer attention to cable players as they continue to have strong subscriber growth. This trend is being boosted by the US’ current socio-economic conditions, as customers are trying to save money wherever they can. Cable players utilize a bundling approach for their mobile services by combining the deals with their internet services. This provides cost savings and fewer service providers to manage every month.

Counterpoint Research USA Postpaid Phone Net Adds
Source: Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Altice earnings statements, Counterpoint Research internal data

Cox Mobile launches two service plans and Samsung device lineup

Cox Mobile is offering two plans, just like other cable providers. The first plan is a by-the-Gig plan for $15 per month, while the other is an unlimited offering for $45 per month. During a press event, Cox Mobile Assistant Vice President of Marketing Catherine Borda de Castro and Vice President Tony Krueck emphasized the unrestricted ability to switch between the two plans to offer the most flexibility and savings possible. For a single line, when you compare Verizon’s lowest 5G unlimited plan, “Welcome Unlimited”, at $65 per month (that is with auto pay and paper-free billing), with Cox Mobile’s $45 per month unlimited plan, yearly savings amount to $240, making a very compelling case for consumers looking to reduce monthly service costs.

Cox Mobile Pricing
Source: Cox Mobile website

The current mobile phone offerings are limited, but Cox says it will launch more flagship devices in the coming months. Currently, Samsung is the only brand being offered, with devices like the A13 5G available for $199.99 ($50 off) and the S22 for $499.99 ($300 off) until January 31. The likely reason for this is Cox’s need to have devices switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and the cellular networks it supports, which may require some changes to existing device infrastructure and software. Another potential reason is that smaller OEMs might be hesitant to join at the start as the unit economics and ROI still need to be proven out for a company that wants to break into the mobile space. Cox already tried to enter the market in 2011 but shuttered the efforts as it found it was not able to be competitive within the market back then.

Leveraging networks, between CBRS and Wi-Fi calling

While Cox does hold some spectrum in the CBRS space, it has not deployed or utilized the assets yet. Like Comcast, Cox could potentially begin installing small cells in key metropolitan areas to offload traffic from Verizon’s network, which would save the new MVNO millions over the long run, as it wouldn’t need to pay to use Verizon’s network for connectivity. Along the same lines, Cox will use its over 4 million hotspots to offload traffic from Verizon’s network. Cox does not own all these hotspots, instead it collaborates with other cable and internet service providers including Optimum, Spectrum and Xfinity to achieve nationwide coverage.

Before the national launch, Cox Mobile was tested in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Omaha, Nebraska and Las Vegas Nevada, with some CBRS field testing done in Las Vegas as well. The results looked very positive according to Cox and provided confidence to open the service to its 7 million customers in 19 states. The current mobile offering is only available for consumers, although Cox Mobile does acknowledge that business subscriptions is another lever it is looking into.

Cox Mobile to go big on marketing – Annie the sheep and Super Bowl

Cox promised to heavily begin marketing its offerings during major sporting events, such as upcoming NFL games and the Super Bowl. It showcased its marketing campaign, which will revolve around Annie the sheep, not only a representation of Cox Mobile’s brand and vision but also an embodiment of its customer base and values.

What Cox Mobile means for mobile industry

Cable players will likely continue growing their mobile subscriber base, especially in these recessionary conditions as people look for value and cost savings. This will put additional pressure on postpaid carriers, which have been bleeding subscribers to cable players over the last years. There is hesitancy in the industry, especially OEMs, to go all-in on partnerships with Cox Mobile, as it is a new brand with no mobile customer base. The US smartphone market is already facing weakness due to the economy, inventory glut, and COVID-19 closures of factories in China. This makes additional investments into new markets challenging for many OEMs.

Counterpoint Research Cable Player Mobile subs
Source: Comcast, Charter, Altice earnings statements, Counterpoint Research internal data

The initial quarters after the launch will be the key for Cox Mobile to begin getting mobile subscribers and prove to the market that further investments and collaborations will be fruitful in the long run. Strong Q4 earnings announcements and net-adds from Comcast, Charter and Altice will help Cox Mobile. It will likely benefit from a halo effect, as Xfinity and Spectrum are showing good mobile penetration already, at 15% of their subscriber base. Operating margins will also be a key factor to watch since it will reveal how well Cox can utilize its wireless hotspots to offload cellular traffic. Look for Cox Mobile to follow similar playbooks of other cable players in 2023, but with some distinct differentiation such as seamless rate plan switching and a cleverly thought-out marketing campaign.

Cable Players Capture Nearly One-third of US Postpaid Phone Net Additions in Q2 2022

The US cable players are continuing to make their presence known across the wireless landscape, even if their total subscribers are dwarfed by those of Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. Over the course of the past few years, the cable players have captured an unignorable number of postpaid phone net additions throughout the industry, snatching subscribers from the major carriers and limiting their growth. In Q2 2022, Xfinity, Spectrum and Optimum Mobile together captured 694,000 postpaid phone net additions. While this lagged AT&T’s 813,000 and T-Mobile’s 723,000, their subscriber growth far outpaced Verizon’s. Together, the cable companies stand as a significant competitor to the wireless incumbents and one that is having a significant impact on the shape of the industry.

Postpaid Net Adds and Losses

*From Q2 2022 earnings releases

Cable players offer strong value

Over the course of the past two years or so, the dynamics of the US smartphone industry have changed, with the carriers bringing back huge device subsidies that allow many customers to get new flagship devices for free. The cable players played a role in this dynamic, challenging the postpaid carriers to offer better value to their subscribers in fear that the cable players could win them over with their low service plan prices. Based on pricing for two lines of entry-level unlimited plans, the cable companies offer wireless service for half the amount per line that Verizon and AT&T charge. But there are drawbacks. For one, mobile services from the cable companies are only available to existing customers. Additionally, Xfinity and Spectrum both throttle data speeds on their unlimited plans after customers use 20 GB of data, below the threshold of the carriers. The carriers also offer Wi-Fi hotspot data with their unlimited plans, an extra perk the cable players do not offer.

Thanks to their low operating costs due to the leasing of spectrum from the carriers and the dynamic use of existing Wi-Fi networks, the cable companies have been able to offer much lower prices for wireless plans than are on offer at the carriers. This value proposition has been recognized by consumers who are looking to save money amid macroeconomic uncertainty and high inflation.

 Plan Pricing

Competition to stay hot in H2 2022 as Boost Infinite and Cox Mobile launch

The competition between the postpaid carriers and cable companies has helped to keep service and device prices low for consumers even as inflation reached the highest level in decades. The battle over value is likely to stay hot through 2023, as Boost plans to launch Boost Infinite, its long-awaited postpaid service, in Q4, and as Cox Communications launches its own wireless services in several states.

With about 6.8 million customers, Cox Communications may not have the extensive subscriber base that Comcast or Charter have, but its entry into the market shows the impact that Comcast, Charter and Altice have had, pioneering a new model that other cable companies are following. Like its forebearers, Cox Mobile will operate as an MVNO while offloading traffic onto its extensive Wi-Fi network, when possible, to keep costs down. Progress will be slow at first. Right now, Cox Mobile is available in only three locations – Hampton Roads (VA), Omaha (NE) and Las Vegas (NV). Cox offers services in 18 states across the country and the strong value cable companies can offer customers is sure to capture mobile customers. If customer adoption follows in Comcast, Charter and Altice’s footsteps, wireless service penetration of existing Cox customers could be about 10% in three years.

For more info, find the full report here.



Could Vodafone and Three be next UK mega-merger?

It has been little over a year since mobile operator O2 tied-up with cable broadband provider Virgin Media to create a new telecom giant ‘Virgin Media O2’. Unlike Three’s proposed takeover of O2, which was blocked by the regulators back in 2016 due to competition concerns, this merger was approved as it involved two service providers with complementary businesses creating a new entity to accelerate investments in 5G and fibre networks.

Recently, it has being reported that Vodafone and Three are in talks about a potential merger. The main rationale for coming together in this case seems to be to drive scale and reduce costs in the mobile sector, as opposed to convergence in the case of the O2 and Virgin Media merger.

UK telecom landscape

UK telecom landscape_Counterpoint Research


How likely is the Vodafone and Three merger to be approved?

Operators’ perspective: The UK is a competitive market, with operators providing unlimited data plans as well as a wide array of MVNOs offering discounted services. Vodafone, the current third largest operator, has been under pressure from its investors to improve returns, whereas Three, the UK’s number four operator, has reported flat revenue growth for last few quarters and has been vocal on the need for structural changes to the UK telecoms market. Therefore, the main reason behind the Vodafone and Three merger is to increase subscriber share (the merger would create a market leading entity) and lower operating costs.

Another rationale could be RAN sharing and cost reduction, as the two operators have a similar set of frequencies in the sub-6 GHz range. The two operators combined can create a more sustainable and stronger player with increased ability to network investments and benefit from economies of scale.

5G Spectrum Portfolio of Vodafone and Three UK

5G Spectrum Portfolio_Counterpoint Research

Regulator’s perspective: The primary concern around this deal would be the reduction of the number of players from four to three. Some studies show that such reduced competition can lead to increased prices and negatively impact service levels. In addition, regulators are wary of mergers creating a dominant player in the market. As a result, this merger may collapse for similar reasons as Three’s takeover bid of O2.

However, while the Vodafone and Three merger would create a market leading entity, the resultant approximate 30% subscriber market share would be similar to its competitors. In addition, regulators are suspected to be a little more sympathetic towards mergers these days than in the pre-pandemic times.

Vodafone and Three UK merger_Counterpoint Research


What has changed post-pandemic?

Connectivity services played a very important role throughout the pandemic, emerging as a lifeline for consumers. Many businesses and some aspects of life are now fully dependent on telecom services. Therefore, if a merger promises increased network investments to improve connectivity and quality of service, regulatory authorities are expected to be more flexible and take a softer stance than in the past.

M&A activity in other competitive markets of Europe

  • Spain: Orange (the second largest operator) and Masmovil (the fourth largest operator) recently signed an agreement worth €18.6 billion ($19 billion) to combine their operations and form a 50-50 joint venture. The new entity will become the country’s largest operator with more than 40% subscriber market share.
  • Italy: At the beginning of 2022, Vodafone and Iliad were in talks to merge their units amid cut-throat competition in the Italian market. However, Vodafone rejected Iliad’s preliminary offer of €11.25 billion ($12.92 billion) citing a lack of value-add for its shareholders. The operator is still ready to evaluate other opportunities.

Additionally, Telecom Italia (TIM) hopes to get the right valuation for its fixed-line assets, which the operator plans to sell and raise cash to cut its debt.

These developments indicate there is increasing consolidation occurring in both the mobile and fixed telecom space. Additionally, many operators have spun-off their tower business or launched joint ventures in order to raise money for network investments or reduce debts. For instance, Deutsche Telekom (DT) has recently announced the sale of 51% of its tower business, GD Towers, to a consortium for €17.5 billion ($17.5 billion). The transaction will help the operator with much needed cash to cut debt and proceed with its target of acquiring a majority stake of 50.1% in T-Mobile US (an increase from its current stake of 48.4%).


The UK’s telecom market is characterised by fierce competition, and it is difficult for the operators to grow organically. Key factors that influence operators’ ROI include weakened bargaining power in the procurement of 5G network equipment (in view of the ban on Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE), competition from other ecosystem players in the enterprise segment (particularly private networks) and increasing cost pressures. Mergers in such an environment help achieve economies of scale through an increased number of subscribers, pooling of resources and lower operating costs. It is likely that the Vodafone – Three merger will be approved and thus improve the overall quality of infrastructure, but only after close scrutiny from regulatory bodies.

Interestingly, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Sky are also rumoured to be interested in acquiring broadband service provider TalkTalk. Going by the recent trends it looks to be only a matter of time before we see the next mega-merger in the UK market. There is a high likelihood of the market evolving to a smaller number of integrated telecom operators offering fixed-mobile convergence services and diversifying the way they engage with consumers. One can see such positive impacts from the Virgin Media O2 case, as the new operator recently reported on its first anniversary that there is a growing adoption of converged services, with 45% of its broadband customers also taking a mobile contract.



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Mobile Allocated Key mmWave Bands at WRC-19

The ITU-sponsored World Radio Conference (WRC-19) was held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh between the 28th October to the 22nd November 2019. Held every four years, the event attracted more than 3,400 delegates from around 165 ITU member states.

The main telecoms-related battle at the conference centred on which high-frequency mmWave bands should be dedicated to 5G and under what conditions. Agenda Item 1.13 looked at seven frequency ranges for mobile broadband spectrum between 24.25 and 86 GHz, with an initial focus on the 26, 32 and 40 GHz bands.

By the end of the conference 17.25 GHz of spectrum had been identified for 5G (compared to the 1.9 GHz of bandwidth available before the conference) in the following frequency bands: 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 and 66-71 GHz. Of this, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has already been harmonised worldwide, thus facilitating global roaming as well as aiding economies of scale.

Most of this new spectrum involves sharing with incumbents, mostly satellite companies, and the WRC accorded protections to minimise interference with satellite transmissions. However, according to the satellite industry the level of protection proposed by the WRC falls significantly short of that demanded by satellite operators. For example, the weather satellite community maintains that the WRC-19 decision will significantly degrade the accuracy of weather data collected in the 24 GHz range, even though the WRC agreed to phase-in more stringent limits on 5G equipment deployed after the 1st September 2027.

An important part of every WRC conference is agreeing the agenda for the next WRC meeting, which will be held in 2023. For the mobile industry, the priority is to see more C-Band spectrum re-purposed for 5G cellular services. The C-band encompasses 800 MHz of spectrum between 3.3-4.3 GHz and is well-suited to 5G, with some countries calling for half or even all of the band to be allocated on a global level during the 2023 WRC meeting. Many countries are already deploying 5G in C-band frequencies and the FCC in the US has vowed to auction some C-band spectrum before the end of 2020.

The mobile industry will also target the 6 GHz band (6,425-7,125 MHz) at WRC-23. This is an attractive solution to complement current mid-band spectrum as there is a good balance between coverage and capacity in the band and the band can support large contiguous blocks (up to 1,200 MHz).

Although the mobile industry was generally positive on the outcome of WRC-19 overall, the same cannot be said for the satellite industry, which will be under further pressure to cede spectrum in 2023. In future, the scarcity of spectrum, coupled with the increasing demand from a raft of new applications such as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), High-Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS), Train/Trackside Radio Communications, Radio Local Area Networks (RLANs), etc. will also be a challenge for the mobile industry in its quest for more spectrum.  With significantly more competition on the horizon, it is likely that there will be much more focus on developing technologies for spectrum sharing in the intervening years between 2019 and 2023.

CBRS Opens-Up 3.5 MHz Mid-Band Spectrum to New Users

Last week, we saw the formal start of Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) of the 3.5 MHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) spectrum band in the US. The CBRS band is a 150 MHz slice of spectrum available for use on a shared and unlicensed basis. The spectrum is divided into three tiers – Tier 1, which is used by incumbents such as the Navy, Department of Defense and by military satellites, and two lower tiers, which are allocated for commercial use (Exhibit 1).

Applicants can apply for a Tier-2 Priority Access License (PAL), a renewable 10-year license to use one or more 10MHz channels within the 3,500-3,650MHz portion of the band, in a limited geographical area. They can also apply for Tier-3 General Authorised Access (GAA), which is unlicensed, like Wi-Fi, and provides a dynamic allocation of the available 100MHz channels so that access does not interfere with communications in the two upper tiers.

Certification and full commercial services are expected to start in Q4 2019 after the 30-day ICD period is successfully concluded. To date, only GAA licenses have been issued, and the auctioning of PAL licenses is not expected until mid-2020. Further, 5G shared spectrum services are also scheduled to begin in 2020 following the publication of the CBRS Alliance’s Release 3 specifications in Q4 2019.

The CBRS 3-tier Spectrum Sharing Architecture
Picture Credit: Lanner

Exhibit 1: The CBRS 3-tier Spectrum Sharing Architecture

The major attraction of the CBRS band is that it will allow a wide range of companies – from cable companies, wireless and fixed telecom operators to a host of commercial and industrial companies – to develop, build and operate their own wireless networks without the involvement of the “Big 4” mobile operators. For example, the CBRS band can support business models for indoor, small cell deployments funded and owned by enterprises themselves. Meanwhile, GAA licenses are especially well-suited for private networks as they combine the best of both LTE and Wi-Fi networks, i.e. they offer traffic management, security, reliability plus low latency.

Companies eyeing opportunities in this band include Amazon, Google, Motorola, and Nokia as well as many industrial enterprises looking to use the spectrum to build LTE and later 5G private networks for IoT, IIoT (Industrial IoT) and other applications.

Amazon has tested a private IoT network designed to support devices such as real-time surveillance cameras and smart meters, with several partners. Federated Wireless, cable company Charter Communications, and Landmark Dividend want to build private LTE networks while Motorola wants to use the band for its MotoTrbo service. Other companies involved include Google, Facebook, Nokia, and Microsoft, as well as Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The ‘Big 4’ MNOs are also heavily engaged as the band will enable them to increase capacity by combining transmission in the CBRS band with other licensed spectrum bands via carrier aggregation technology. They could also use CBRS to boost their network performance by using it as a kind of interim low latency alternative or complement to Wi-Fi prior to the widespread deployment of 5G. In-building CBRS networks will also likely be connected to the operators’ public 5G networks for seamless interoperability.

Verizon is particularly keen on the band. Although it owns significant amounts of mmWave spectrum, it lacks sufficient mid-band spectrum and has been testing both commercial and private mobile networks for several months, particularly the use of indoor/outdoor small cells. The company is already offering CBRS-capable devices to its customers, including the latest Apple iPhone 11 handsets, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel 3. Meanwhile, AT&T is keen to use the band for fixed wireless Internet services to rural customers and expects to start services in late Q4 2019.

Although there is tremendous interest in using the band, ultimately, its success will depend on a number of factors. Top of the list, however, will be the ability of the spectrum sharing system (administered by Federated Wireless, CommScope, Google, and Nokia) to protect the access of Tier 1 incumbent users. Although multiple trials have taken place, it will take some time to determine whether spectrum sharing works as envisaged. If it does not, then this is potentially a major issue, as most of the Tier 1 users are located along the US coastline, where the majority of the population live and where the demand for CBRS spectrum is likely to be highest.

Pioneered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and commercial US wireless companies, the CBRS dynamic spectrum sharing model is being closely watched by regulators around the world. If successful, it will likely be implemented outside the US. Together with other similar systems under development elsewhere (such as ETSI’s Licensed Shared Access), spectrum sharing could potentially open up swathes of lightly used spectrum bands around the world for new applications. Counterpoint Research believes that this will dramatically change the wireless landscape, for example, by accelerating the deployment of wireless networks by non-MNO companies.  In future, dynamic spectrum sharing is likely to become the norm rather than the exception in underutilized and unlicensed spectrum bands, but is unlikely to be used in mobile licensed bands.

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