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Shared Spectrum: A New Solution to IoT Connectivity Challenges

Technologies based on the 3.5 GHz band, dubbed OnGo by the CBRS Alliance, enable interference-free LTE services for Internet of Things deployments.
By Alan Ewing
Aug 18, 2019

Many commercial and industrial organizations are exploring Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to drive productivity, automation and cost-savings within their business. A recent Spiceworks survey confirms that 86 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees plan to adopt IoT solutions by 2020. Although the market forecasts are positive and the deployment opportunities seem endless, there are critical connectivity challenges that must be addressed before organizations can experience the next phase of digital transformation.

IoT devices require superior network speeds, capacity, communication latency and reliability—and managing the connectivity of hundreds or even thousands of sensors and devices poses a critical challenge that threatens the adoption of IoT deployments. Existing wireless offerings, like Wi-Fi, are easy to install and inexpensive to deploy, but they lack dependability for mission-critical IoT use cases.

Additionally, LTE solutions, which are highly reliable and secure, haven't been viewed as a viable option because of the lack of available wireless spectrum required for effective deployments. Due to the current absence of cost-effective, easy-to-manage solutions, organizations face a connectivity issue that poses a significant barrier to extensive market adoption.

Empowering IoT Deployments
Using some impressive foresight, in April 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) framework to open additional spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band through an innovative sharing mechanism. In 2017, industry leaders came together to form the CBRS Alliance to encourage the development, commercialization and adoption of LTE solutions for this newly available spectrum. At present, the organization is 140 members strong and growing, representing every part of the wireless ecosystem.

In the new CBRS model, 150 MHz of underutilized wireless spectrum is efficiently shared by taking advantage of advanced allocation and coordination techniques implemented as cloud services—a revolutionary, dynamic option that will define the future of how spectrum is utilized. Technologies based on the 3.5 GHz band, named OnGo, offer organizations an opportunity for interference-free LTE services that target connectivity gaps where organizations need it most, including IoT deployments.

There are many use cases for private LTE enterprise networks empowered by OnGo, ranging from outdoor operations, such as mining, utilities and transportation, to indoor operation, like health care and hospitality. LTE can both support new applications and improve existing data services.

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