Duke University to test private LTE/5G network using CBRS spectrum

Pilot program launched by Cisco, DISH Wireless, Duke and Internet2 aims to demonstrate the practicality of low-cost, shared wireless spectrum using CBRS.

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Cisco and DISH Wireless are teaming with Duke University and the Internet2 research network to pilot a neutral host network for higher education institutions using Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) shared spectrum.

CBRS is a band of radio-frequency spectrum from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz that the Federal Communications Commission has designated for sharing among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority licensees, and generally authorized/lightly licensed.

Neutral host networks typically let public and private entities use the same network, which is then managed by the enterprise itself or by one of the providers. In this case, the neutral host network will integrate Duke University’s private network, which uses Cisco’s Private 5G as a service platform, and Internet2’s national research and education network with DISH Wireless’ 5G network.

The idea is to improve the mobile coverage of Duke’s network while verifying the viability of low-cost, shared wireless spectrum using CBRS to let enterprises own and operate private LTE and 5G networks. Potential applications for education institutions using private, CBRS-connected mobile networks include smart campuses, IoT sensor networks, extended coverage for campus Wi-Fi, fixed wireless services, and support for research testbeds.

“Every college and university has experienced dramatic increases in wireless needs from our mobile-first communities. Rather than providing two separate infrastructures throughout our campuses — cellular and Wi-Fi — the holy grail has always been for a single, common network delivering both cellular and high-speed private Wi-Fi,” said Tracy Futhey, vice president and chief information officer, Duke University, in a statement. “The recent availability of CBRS, together with our collaboration with Internet2, DISH Wireless and Cisco, makes this vision a reality by delivering a private Duke wireless network over the carrier-grade cellular infrastructure that stretches throughout our campus.”

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