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The Growing CBRS Ecosystem: A Wealth of CBRS-Ready Devices

The USA’s Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) has been on an upward trajectory, with the recent CBRS auction attracting 271 bidders vying for this coveted spectrum. The good news for these bidders and future CBRS users is that there is a robust and expanding selection of CBRS-ready devices available. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reports that nearly 200 CBRS-compatible devices are at your disposal. In this blog, we explore this burgeoning landscape, shedding light on how CBRS is gaining prominence and the role these devices play.

The Growing CBRS Ecosystem (1)

The Evolution of CBRS

The inception and evolution of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the United States represent a groundbreaking milestone in the realm of wireless communication. Established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in April 2016, CBRS was born from a visionary initiative that sought to address the burgeoning demand for wireless connectivity by introducing a shared spectrum paradigm.

At the heart of CBRS lies the 3.5 GHz band, encompassing the frequencies from 3550 to 3700 MHz. This spectrum was earmarked as a communal resource, opening the doors for a multitude of users to coexist and harness its potential. The significance of this endeavor was twofold: it not only unlocked new opportunities for the deployment of high-speed LTE networks but also set the stage for the integration of cutting-edge 5G technology.

The allocation of this spectrum is structured to prioritize its use for government and military applications. However, CBRS ingeniously extends its accessibility to other stakeholders, most notably Priority Access Licensed (PAL) users. These entities secure regional licenses for specific portions of the CBRS spectrum through ongoing spectrum auctions, ensuring that they have the necessary resources to provide efficient, high-quality wireless services.

What distinguishes CBRS from traditional spectrum allocation models is the provision for General Authorized Access (GAA) users. GAA users, unlike PAL licensees, can access the CBRS spectrum dynamically, thanks to the oversight of approved Spectrum Access Server (SAS) operators. This dynamic allocation mechanism allows GAA users to utilize the available spectrum as needed, fostering a more flexible and adaptive approach to wireless connectivity.

In essence, CBRS has ushered in an era of shared spectrum utilization, where diverse stakeholders can coexist harmoniously, catering to the ever-increasing demand for wireless data and services. With its emphasis on both government and commercial use, as well as its integration with advanced technologies like 5G, CBRS exemplifies a forward-thinking and inclusive approach to spectrum management, ultimately ensuring that wireless communication in the United States remains at the cutting edge of innovation and efficiency.

Interoperability and CBRS Alliance:

Interoperability within the realm of CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) is a critical facet of its seamless operation, and this mission is spearheaded by the CBRS Alliance, an organization that has played a pivotal role in ensuring the technical aspects of CBRS interoperability. This collaborative body has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of shared spectrum connectivity in the USA. 

One of the significant contributions made by the CBRS Alliance is the introduction of the OnGo brand, a mark of distinction that accompanies the CBRS certification process. The OnGo brand signifies devices and systems that adhere to the stringent standards and specifications set forth by the Alliance, ensuring that they are fully compatible with the CBRS ecosystem.

What further underscores the importance of the CBRS Alliance’s efforts is its ongoing collaboration with esteemed organizations such as 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and the Wireless Innovation Forum. Together, they have been diligently working to establish comprehensive specifications and guidelines for the integration of CBRS with 5G technology. This cooperation has resulted in the harmonious coexistence of CBRS and 5G, starting with Release 15.

Looking to the future, the CBRS Alliance remains committed to ensuring that CBRS continues to evolve alongside 5G technology, with upcoming releases, namely Releases 16 and 17, specifically tailored to guarantee compatibility and interoperability. This forward-thinking approach ensures that CBRS technology remains at the forefront of the wireless communication landscape, empowering businesses, government entities, and service providers to harness the full potential of shared spectrum connectivity while embracing the advancements of 5G technology. The collaborative efforts of the CBRS Alliance and its partners represent a significant milestone in the evolution of wireless communication, promising a future marked by innovation, flexibility, and efficiency.

Spectrum Auctions

The 3.5 GHz band can be used alongside a licensed anchor band for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) deployments. Additionally, 3GPP Release 16 incorporated support for CBRS Band 48 as the anchor band for unlicensed spectrum (using Band 46) for NR-U deployments.

In January 2020, the FCC certified four Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators, authorizing their systems for commercial use for five years. This certification also allowed commercial use of CBRS spectrum for General Authorized Access users until the completion of the Priority Access CBRS spectrum auction at 3.5 GHz.

Auction 105 began on July 23, 2020, with a whopping 271 qualified bidders. The auction included 22,631 Priority Access Licenses (PALs) across 3,233 county areas. Each PAL provides access to 10 MHz of unpaired spectrum within the 3550–3650 band. Notably, spectrum from 3650 to 3700 MHz was not included in the auction, reserving it for incumbent uses and General Authorized Access.

While bidders can secure up to four lots in each geographic area, spectrum allocation is dynamic and managed by Spectrum Access System (SAS) operators, ensuring incumbent users’ needs are met. Requests for specific channels or frequency ranges are accommodated, with efforts to assign geographically contiguous PALs to the same channels.

As of mid-August, bidding in Auction 105 had already exceeded $4.2 billion after 47 completed rounds.

A Plethora of CBRS Devices

The proliferation of CBRS-compatible devices in the market represents a significant milestone in the widespread adoption of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has been meticulously tracking this dynamic landscape and has identified a substantial 198 CBRS-ready devices, which is a remarkable 35% increase in a span of less than six months. This surge in device availability signifies the growing interest and investment in CBRS technology, reflecting the heightened demand for wireless connectivity solutions.

These 198 devices hail from a diverse array of 53 different vendors, showcasing the broad spectrum of choices available to consumers and businesses alike. The product categories span a wide spectrum, catering to various use cases and requirements. Among these categories, the predominant offerings include Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), which are essential for the efficient delivery of wireless services to homes and businesses. These devices play a pivotal role in ensuring high-quality connectivity for end-users.

In addition to CPE devices, there is a notable presence of industrial-grade CPE/router/modem solutions. These rugged and robust devices are designed to withstand challenging environments and deliver reliable wireless connectivity, making them ideal for industrial applications, remote sites, and critical infrastructure.

The world of CBRS-ready devices also extends to mobile devices such as phones and modules. These offerings allow individuals and businesses to leverage the CBRS spectrum for mobile communication and data services, ensuring that CBRS technology is accessible and versatile for various purposes.

Importantly, these devices are characterized by their explicit support for CBRS or Band 48, which is in accordance with the standards set by the US Federal Communications Commission. This authorization ensures that these devices adhere to the regulatory requirements for operating within the CBRS spectrum. It underscores the commitment to delivering reliable, secure, and compliant wireless communication services to end-users.

The availability of such a diverse and extensive range of CBRS-compatible devices not only highlights the success and acceptance of CBRS as a pivotal wireless communication technology but also ensures that businesses and consumers can choose from a wealth of options to meet their specific connectivity needs. This development bodes well for the expansion and utilization of CBRS across various sectors, promising increased efficiency, connectivity, and innovation in the wireless communication landscape. As the CBRS ecosystem continues to thrive, it offers a testament to the promising future of shared spectrum technology in the United States and beyond.

Pioneering the Future with CBRS-Ready Devices

Horizon Powered, an emerging company with a strong focus on CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) technology, is poised to make a significant impact on the wireless communication landscape in the USA. With a commitment to the shared spectrum vision of CBRS, Horizon Powered is introducing a diverse range of CBRS-ready devices designed to meet the evolving needs of businesses and consumers. Their innovative lineup includes the 2100F12, 25005G, I272, DG10, 2400F20, HZ51, MH500C, IR2005G, and CC1005G. These devices are thoughtfully engineered to leverage the full potential of the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum, ensuring reliable and high-performance connectivity. As Horizon Powered steps into the forefront of CBRS technology, the future of wireless communication in the USA looks incredibly promising, with a spectrum of opportunities for enhanced connectivity, innovative applications, and robust network solutions. Stay tuned for more updates as Horizon Powered continues to lead the way in the dynamic world of CBRS technology.


The fervor surrounding CBRS in the USA is undeniable. Before the auction, 19 public network operators had been actively investing in CBRS through trials and, in some cases, deployments. Furthermore, many companies had expressed keen interest in leveraging CBRS for private network deployments. As the spectrum auction concludes, we can anticipate a substantial wave of investment in CBRS networks, both for public and private networking purposes. The GSA will continue to closely monitor this dynamic and pivotal market.