Southern Linc Requests License to Trial CBRS to Complement LTE Network
Monday, July 01, 2019 | Comments

Southern Communications Services, doing business as Southern Linc, applied for an experimental six-month special temporary authority (STA) to conduct technical trials using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band from specified locations in Alabama.

To evaluate the technical viability and capability of the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum — including propagation, building signal penetration and mobility aspects — Southern Linc seeks an experimental STA to evaluate the performance and capabilities of 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum to support critical electric and gas utility communications applications.

Southern Linc operates a commercial digital 800 MHz system that uses an all-Long Term Evolution (LTE) platform to provide interconnected voice, dispatch, push-to-talk (PTT), text and picture messaging, internet access and data transmission services over the same handset. Southern Linc provides these services across a 127,000-square-mile service territory covering Georgia, Alabama, southeastern Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida.

As a subsidiary of Southern Co., Southern Linc directly and indirectly supports the internal communications needs of its affiliated electric utility operating companies, which include not only mobile services but also fixed point-to-point and fixed point-to-multipoint wireless services for a variety of applications, such as monitoring, load management, protective relaying, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Southern Linc is using its 800 MHz LTE network for various applications in support of its affiliates’ electric and gas utility operations. These applications include advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) backhaul, SCADA, remote engineering access, telephony, PTT fault monitoring and general workforce mobility applications.

The testing is intended to confirm propagation modeling characteristics; performance in dense urban canyon environments with obstacles including large buildings of various materials composition, large mobile vehicles and some foliage; performance in rural environments with obstacles including small buildings and dense foliage; and the ability of a mobile end-user device to seamlessly roam between a 3.5 GHz CBRS base station using up to 40 megahertz of spectrum and an 800 MHz band 26 base station using 3 megahertz of spectrum. Additionally, the testing is intended to confirm that the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum band can provide the necessary capacity and latency for various applications and use cases in support of electric and gas utility operations.

In addition, Southern Linc plans to incorporate spectrum access system (SAS)/environmental sensing capability (ESC) integration of equipment into the trial once SAS and ESC alpha and beta testing become viable with at least one party.

The testing will involve wireless connectivity to fixed and mobile locations within the listed radii of each transmitter site. The Ericsson models that Southern Linc plans to test are certified LTE band class 48 equipment that has been deployed worldwide at 3.5 GHz. Southern Linc plans to deploy one directional antenna at each site. The trial will include equipment from Ericsson, Google, Telit and Sierra Wireless.

Southern Linc will monitor construction and operation to ensure that there will be no harmful interference to incumbent access users and to remedy harmful interference in the unlikely event it occurs. Further, there appears to be no ground-based radar within 100 miles of the planned trial area that would require ESC or coordination with incumbents, and the proposed areas of operation are outside the coastal protection zone. Commission records also show that there are no fixed satellite earth stations in the 3.6 – 3.65 GHz band operating anywhere in the vicinity of the trial location.

The license application is here. A statement with more details is here.

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