The Department of Defense (DoD) recently told Congress it’s involved in several projects to determine the feasibility of spectrum sharing. Now, one of those, involving 5G and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, is coming to light.
The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) Project Office, led by US Ignite and Northeastern University, announced $2.7 million in new funding awarded by the DoD for development work on advanced spectrum sharing technologies and artificial intelligence. The PAWR program is funded by the National Science Foundation and a consortium of 35 industry partners. USIgnite is a nonprofit organization focused on smart communities with ties to the NSF.
Spectrum sharing technology already plays a key role in the CBRS band by assigning commercial users to frequencies within the band that are not in use by the U.S. military. The PAWR project will take that concept further by enabling sharing within frequency bands. It will use the money to perform tests on a live 5G-NR network at a test bed in Salt Lake City, UT. These tests will demonstrate how two mobile operators can occupy spectrum in the same CBRS channel autonomously with the help of a “decision engine” designed to coordinate spectrum use.
The Zylinium team is proposing a new overlay capability in the CBRS band for 5G networks called the Zylinium Spectrum Exchange (ZSE). Initially tested using an RF emulator, the ZSE coordinates spectrum use. For the test, spectrum will be allocated at a “highly granular level using resource blocks that measure 180 kHz by 1 m,” according to the PAWR.
The ZSE is not meant to replace any existing Spectrum Access System governing CBRS spectrum across different tiers of users: incumbents, Priority Access Licenses users, and General Authorized Access users. Instead, it’s conceived to allow more spectrum sharing within these tiers, creating greater spectral efficiency while minimizing interference.