San Diego Utility to Trial Mission-Critical LTE Network at 3.5 GHz
Friday, May 03, 2019 | Comments

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) plans to test whether a private Long Term Evolution (LTE) network can operate in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to provide communications for applications such as wildfire risk mitigation.

The utility applied for a special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC to conduct the trial from July 1 to the end of 2019. The application said the purpose of the operation is to determine if 10 or 20 megahertz time division duplex (TDD) channels will provide the coverage, capacity and latency required to support mission-critical utility applications while not causing co-channel or adjacent channel interference to existing licenses.

SDG&E plans to install equipment from Nokia, Seowon and Sonim Technologies for the trial in Borrego Springs, California. SDG&E will install LTE-Advanced eNodeBs (base stations) at five fixed locations, and each location will have three “sectors” and provide overlapping coverage to assess performance of handover to support the high-availability requirements of its mission-critical communications.

The testing will involve wireless connectivity to both fixed and mobile locations within a specific radius of each transceiver (base station) site. SDG&E will evaluate LTE-Advanced using 10- and 20-megahertz channels as narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) using 200-kilohertz channels.

At the conclusion of the experiment, SDG&E expects to determine whether a network built using LTE-Advanced equipment in CBRS allocation can support SDG&E’s mission-critical communications needs and whether such a network will be able to operate with other networks with no harmful interference to either system.

In October, the FCC released updated CBRS rules for the 3.5 GHz band licenses. The new rules change the size of priority access licenses (PAL) license areas from census tracts to counties. An auction for the licenses is likely to be held in 2020.

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