Skip to Content
Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

The role of CBRS in private 5G networks

In my previous article I highlighted the role of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in facilitating private 5G enabled networks. Since January 2020 – and for the first time since 2003 - the mid-band spectrum has been made available for private use in the US.

In the US, CBRS was historically reserved for the military and matters relating to public safety. Today, its capabilities enable consumers, enterprises and industrial applications to take advantage of faster 4G LTE and 5G across a much wider area.

The CBRS spectrum meets demand for reliability and speed that exceeds the capabilities of traditional wireless connectivity. Implementation of a wide area network via CBRS can also prove to be a more cost-effective option than Wi-Fi, depending on data use, extent of coverage required and location.


This is a profile image of Wayne Eng, Market Strategy Head for Data and Telecom at Henkel.

Wayne Eng
Market Strategy Head - Data and Telecom
View on LinkedIn

Concept of 5G wireless digital connection and internet of things represented by a vector globe overlaid to a blue colored smart city at night.

CBRS: Operating across three tiers

CRBS is driving deployment and adoption of private networks. As it operates on a licensed spectrum, it also delivers more benefits where reliability, low latency and speed are essential. User licenses are structured within a three tier system, offering different access privileges within each tier.

These tiers operate on a band of radio-frequency spectrum ranging from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz:

Tier 1: Incumbent systems, such as those used for US military and satellite stations.

Tier 2: Priority Access License (PAL). This tier grants users access to a 10 MHZ channel in a defined geographical area.

Tier 3: General Authorized Access (GAA). This third tier is available for private enterprise, without interfering with the higher tiers.

Private 5G networks are starting to deploy 5G technologies to provide secure, optimized services, delivering the speed and mobility necessary to support new applications. Alternatively, CBRS enables enterprises to develop their own private 5G networks to enhance wireless connectivity in areas that require a broader reach and guaranteed SLAs (service level agreements) for latency and throughput. Businesses can utilize the spectrum to develop their own private 5G networks.

Benefits of CBRS

CBRS helps to improve wireless connectivity into infrastructure and critical services, working alongside existing networks. Combined with 5G it offers several advantages in areas where connectivity is limited or disrupted.

Described as an ‘’express lane’’ for wireless connectivity, CBRS enabled 5G private networks offer greater:

  • Improved network capacity.
  • Coverage of larger or remote areas that Wi-Fi cannot serve effectively.
  • Enhanced security.
  • Low latency connectivity for mission-critical applications.
  • Reliable performance as disruption is limited.
  • Better mobility: CBRS technology enables high speed mobility and a longer signal range.
  • Interoperability.

Those benefits apply across areas including retail, industry, healthcare, and public transport, for instance, 5G enabled medical devices in hospitals, large stadium events, airports, and boosting wireless connections in the hospitality sector. It also supports the industrial IoT (IIoT), smart factories and supply chains which depend on secure and reliable connectivity to maximize efficiencies.

CBRS spectrum for private 5G networks also offers an unparalleled opportunity to enable private wireless connectivity across smart cities, where existing wireless network infrastructures struggle.

An image of a smart city grid.

The Future of CBRS and 5G private networks

A 2019 report forecast that private LTE would drive CBRS growth, predicting $100 million in market revenues by 2024.

Extensive support for software, hardware and services for enterprises deploying CBRS is already available. Over 185 organizations have formed the OnGo Alliance (formerly the CBRS Alliance), a coalition boasting members such as Facebook, Google, and major industry brands including Ericsson, Cisco, Intel, and Qualcomm.

In September 2021, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. announced the successful completion of the first over-the-air 5G New Radio (NR) call on CBRS spectrum. Federated Wireless operates a 4G/5G service, and Microsoft Azure offers it as an option for connectivity to the cloud.

The CBRS Spotlight Report also notes the advantages offered by the CBRS spectrum in providing private wireless networks for business and industry where wi-fi or existing cellular networks are unreliable.

CBRS and private 5G networks: a new foundation

Enterprises that deployed IT and wireless innovation since the beginning of the pandemic have adapted more rapidly and demonstrated more efficiency and resilience in the face of disruptive changed.

CBRS is a key enabler of the growth of 5G service for business and consumers. Organizations that invest in this infrastructure are ideally positioned to utilize the CBRS spectrum as it becomes more mainstream. With wireless speeds often exceeding those of wired networks, CBRS will lay the foundation for new service providers and the acceleration of digital initiatives through 2022 and beyond.