Indoor LTE wireless: Not to be overlooked at Mobile World Congress

Indoor LTE wireless effort: Not to be overlooked at Mobile World Congress
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Google, Intel, Qualcomm among backers of Citizens Broadband Radio Service in 3.5 GHz wireless band

Likely to get lost among the shiny new Android and Windows smartphones and tablets at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are demonstrations of technology that could bring LTE indoors over the 3.5 GHz wireless spectrum band previously the sole domain of the military and satellite providers.

But the exploitation of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz band, which the FCC voted about a year ago to make available for shared wireless broadband use, is worth paying attention to, especially if you're an organization that could stand to deliver more oomph for your employees who rely on wireless devices to make and receive calls in the office. CBRS could overcome some of the troubles people currently have making LTE calls from indoors, due to interference or weak signals that result from penetrating tough building materials.

Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Ruckus, Federated Wireless and Nokia last week announced their "shared commitment to develop, market and promote solutions utilizing the U.S. 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service." And as colleague Stephen Lawson at IDG News Service wrote last week, Ruckus and Qualcomm will use Mobile World Congress to demonstrate OpenG, a Ruckus scheme to take advantage of CBRS once more handsets are equipped to work in the newly freed spectrum.

Some satellite providers aren't psyched about what they see as a potential threat to their services -- because of interference -- and there's a robust back and forth taking place now among comment filers at the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Google and Nokia are among those that have been weighing in to support CBRS.

Attorney Gregory Kunkle also writes on the Beyond Telecom Law Blog that existing 3.5 GHz licensees in critical infrastructure businesses such as utilities might balk at staying within this spectrum if they're requited to hook their control systems up the the Internet.

Still to be sorted out are issues such as who will manage the databases that help manage dynamic spectrum access and how the process for assigning so-called priority access licenses will be handled. Oh, and it will be interesting to see if Apple will jump into this fray as well, since you'd think iPhone and iPad support would be key.

Then again, maybe things won't wind up being all that complicated: Ruckus Director of Product Management Juan Santiago writes on the company's blog that he expects "building owners who have deployed in-building coverage using CBRS will have access to the entire CBRS band at all times."

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