Illinois Electric Coop Selects Ericsson CBRS Solution
Tuesday, April 05, 2022 | Comments

Illinois Electric Cooperative (IEC) selected Ericsson, through its strategic partnership with XtremeLTE, to modernize networks in rural Pike County, Illinois. The project involves fixed wireless access (FWA) delivered through the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum.

The new partnership, which is part of the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II), will support IEC's efforts to improve capacity, coverage and user experience for its customers. The project deployed in the fourth quarter of 2021.

"Illinois Electric Cooperative is taking a major step towards expanding connectivity and broadband services in areas where they are unavailable," said Matt Haverfield, network operations manager for Illinois Electric Cooperative. "The selection of Ericsson, through their partnership with XtremeLTE, allows us to create private networks with superior uplink and downlink performance, and create an infrastructure that is affordable and enables reliable and quality communication services."

IEC sought vendors that could comply with the FCC's challenging Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) above-baseline performance tier on a massive scale. After an extensive evaluation process, IEC through Vantage Point Solutions, a third-party independent engineering consultant firm, conducted a field test at XtremeLTE's facility in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, where the operator successfully demonstrated the FWA equipment's capability in delivering a minimum 100 megabit per second (Mbps) downlink and 20 Mbps uplink.

"CAF-II performance requirements are stringent, so a robust evaluation process was in the best interest of IEC's long-term success," said Jay Briscoe, engineering staff at Vantage Point Solutions. "Our team has enjoyed working with IEC on their FWA deployment in rural Illinois, and this process was an extension of that support. Vantage Point Solutions congratulates Ericsson and XtremeLTE on their selection.”

Under the new agreement, XtremeLTE will be provide an Ericsson radio system that includes future-proof product lines supporting CBRS, as well as the Educational Broadcast Services (EBS) and private LTE capabilities that were previously dependent on Wi-Fi technology.

The partnership will also bring Ericsson's AIR 6488 Advanced Antenna System (AAS) solution to more than 50 sites across Illinois. AAS enables state-of-the-art beamforming and massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO), powerful tools for fostering large-scale deployments in existing and future mobile networks. Through these solutions, IEC will achieve significant performance gains, with the capability to upgrade to 5G New Radio (NR) when needed.

"CBRS in the 3.5 GHz band will have big implications for building private LTE networks and in improving 4G and 5G service offerings," said Bill Chotiner, vice president and chief technology officer for customer unit regional carriers, Ericsson North America. "This partnership allows us to continue bringing ultra-high-speed broadband to rural communities in America, and it comes at a critical time where service providers like Illinois Electric Cooperative are looking to scale their offerings, launch more use cases and protect existing services."

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