On September 18, the CBRS Alliance officially announced the launch of OnGo™ commercial service in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in the USA.
As a member of the CBRS Alliance, an industry organization focused on driving the development and adoption of solutions for CBRS spectrum, Sequans is celebrating along with other CBRS Alliance members and is pleased to see many months of effort now coming to fruition.
The availability of CBRS spectrum has spawned a tremendous amount of innovation in many areas, especially in IoT and private LTE networks, and Sequans has taken advantage of this opportunity to introduce two new modules for LTE connectivity in the CBRS band. Sequans has unique experience in 3.5 GHz gained over more than a decade of providing solutions for this band to customers around the world.
The importance of the new modules is that they provide device makers and ODMs/OEMs with an all-in-one solution to connect devices to CBRS networks, therefore making integration into devices quick, easy, and cost-effective, speeding time to market.
Monica Paolini of Senza Fili interviewed Sequans’ Mickael Batariere, broadband and CBRS product manager, about the OnGo commercial service launch and Sequans’ CBRS solutions and strategy. Please see below for links to Monica’s video interview with Mickael and to a new report on CBRS recently published by Senza Fili.
You can watch a video of the interview below, and find an interview transcript at the bottom of the page.
Click here to access Senza Fili’s new CBRS report.
Monica: Can you tell us what Sequans does, and what your role at the company is?
Mickael: Sequans is a chipset company, and a leading provider of LTE chips and module solutions for broadband and Internet of things. At Sequans, I am the product manager of the broadband product portfolio, and in particular, the CBRS product line.
Monica: Sequans has been working on IoT for a long time. CBRS is really nothing new, but can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing specifically within the CBRS space at Sequans?
Mickael: Sequans’ broadband products have been supporting 3.5 GHz deployments world wide for over a decade now. And naturally, we’re supporting CBRS. We are very pleased to contribute to the OnGo launch with the recent release of our CBRS modules.
Monica: You’re a chipset company. Why did you decide to develop a module specifically for CBRS?
Mickael: The module enables the customer to integrate CBRS connectivity into their products very easily. It’s very small, very easy to integrate. Any product can be connected to a CBRS network when the vendor adds the CBRS module.
Monica: How big is it?
Mickael: It is very small, a 29×32 mm LCC package. I will show you [see photo].
Monica: A module can support many IoT applications. What role do you expect the module to play within the CBRS ecosystem?
Mickael: The module connects the device to the network. It allows the device to transfer all the assets, all the information to the network.
Monica: Is it going to be cost effective? What business models can a CBRS module support?
Mickael: Until recently the availability of CBRS modules that are optimized for the enterprise and IoT market have been very limited. In June 2019, we launched two modules, the CB410 and CB610, that are optimized for the IoT market on CBRS.
Monica: What is the difference between the two modules?
Mickael: The data rates that you can achieve. One is Cat 4 and the other Cat 6. Each module is cost optimized. For a very low price, you can add connectivity, and we have two flavors for different
Monica: That’s valuable because different IoT devices may better suited to one module or the other. Are you targeting your existing customers, new customers, or both?
Mickael: Sequans is reaching existing customers and new customers. Existing customers are mainly using our chipsets, and now the modules enable them and new customers to develop other products.
Monica: The modules can be used in new devices. But they can also be used in existing devices, right?
Mickael: Exactly. We have customers that are using the modules to make new versions of existing products for CBRS. We have other customers that are developing new products for CBRS.
Monica: This is the kind of flexibility that you need in IoT, because there are so many applications out there that you can deploy. For what applications will your customers use the CBRS modules?
Mickael: A lot. There are a very large number of possible applications that benefit from OnGo, that may be used in indoor or outdoor private networks. We see a demand in CPEs, gateways for
broadband access, and industrial IoT solutions. We see the need to provide a new connection in
many different industries. We see IoT products for smart-building initiatives. We have projects, for example, on smart meters. A lot of applications are still using Wi-Fi today and they will migrate to CBRS networks. For example, one of our customers has wireless tablets that today connect to Wi-Fi. It plans to make a version of the tablet with our module that connects to the private CBRS network.
Monica: In many Wi-Fi networks some of the applications can be moved to LTE and CBRS. In
that case, the enterprise can continue to use the application in its CBRS network. Some of these applications are for the enterprise, some are for smart cities, and some for individual consumer users. What do you think is going to happen? Is CBRS going to be more successful on the enterprise side or on the consumer side?
Mickael: The first basket we expect to emerge is the enterprise, the end-to-end business. And this is the market we are focusing on today. There will be consumer products that will connect on the OnGo networks as well, once it has been a bit more widely deployed.
Monica: I agree that the enterprise will go first. It’s easier to deploy private CBRS networks, and
they give the enterprise control they want to have. Now, there are two things that enterprises are worried about. The first one you address very well. It’s a question of do we have devices out there for CBRS? With the module, you address that. The other question that I often get is about the
market. CBRS is a solution that only works in the US. Is the US a big enough market to justify the
commitment of device vendors?
Mickael: CBRS is specific to the US, but our solution benefits from the experience we have on 3.5 GHz deployments outside of the US. The solution integrates all the technology that we have developed for the other markets. We are excited to have a CBRS solution based on this deep experience.
Monica: You already have experience in the 3.5 GHz band. Can OEM customers outside the US use your modules?
Mickael: It is possible. CBRS is for the US market, but the module can also be used outside the US.
Monica: What is the difference, from a regulatory point of view?
Mickael: In the US, the regulator, the FCC, sets the rules for the use of the CBRS band, 3GPP’s Band 48. Outside the US, it’s a little bit different, but the module covers both.
Monica: What will the deployment roadmap for CBRS be? Today, we have LTE. In the coming years, how will 5G fit into this picture?
Mickael: In CBRS, LTE is first step toward 5G. Right now, we have launched our CBRS module, but Sequans has also been working on 5G for several years. In the roadmap, we have a 5G solution for 2021 that will address the broadband business, and also the new markets that 5G will open. Last year, we announced a strategic investment in the company’s 5G program.
Monica: Is it going to be possible for the enterprise to upgrade their CBRS modules from LTE to 5G?
Mickael: Yes, they will be able to with the new version of our module. Today, CBRS is based on LTE technology, but the next versions of the modules will be based on 5G.
Monica: This gives the enterprise, and your customers, a clear evolution path. They don’t have to start from scratch. They don’t have to throw everything away and start all over.
Mickael: Yes, exactly. It’s compatible. The new solution will be both 5G and be 4G backward compatible for existing LTE-based products.