Federated Wireless gains backing from SBA Communications for CBRS-based private LTE
Federated Wireless has raised $51 million in a Series C funding round, in the midst of the final run-up to the commercial launch of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.
The final regulatory go-ahead for Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD) of CBRS is expected within the next two weeks. The CBRS Alliance has scheduled an event for September 18 to celebrate ICD and highlight real-world use cases for LTE in CBRS spectrum, which has been branded as OnGo.
The tiered, spectrum-sharing network approach has been in the works for several years, and Federated Wireless has been heavily involved in the testing and pre-commercial pilots of CBRS systems. It operates both a Spectrum Access System, which ensures that CBRS devices are properly allocated spectrum resources that protect incumbents, and a coastal Environmental Sensing Capability network to account for the presence of naval radars operating in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. It is also a co-founder of the CBRS Alliance.
Federated President and CEO Iyad Tarazi noted that while the latest funding round draws primarily from existing investors, there are also some new backers for Federated — including network infrastructure company SBA Communications. SBA, he said, wants to work with Federated to drive private LTE and neutral-host CBRS solutions. An example would be a private network built for an airport to support its operations, with additional capacity which could be used by carriers for network offload. Because the technology for such offload resides primarily on the device in CBRS — as opposed to traditionally residing with the network — the shared cost is lower than traditional distributed antenna systems and more scalable, Tarazi said.
Federated gained additional investment from existing investors American Tower, Allied Minds and GIC, which is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. Pennant Investors was the other new addition.
The Series C round “will enable the company to further accelerate availability and adoption of shared spectrum CBRS services by wireless carriers, cable companies, utilities and enterprises seeking to augment existing and next-generation 5G wireless services and private LTE,” Federated said. The company said that it has more than 25 customers “spanning the telecommunications, energy, hospitality, education, retail, office space, municipal and residential verticals, with a wide range of use cases ranging from network densification and mobile offload to private LTE and industrial IoT,” and more than 40 CBRS ecosystem partners.
“We passed all of the major hurdles on the road to CBRS deployment in the first half of 2019 and we are fully ready to engage the growing number and types of customers clamoring for access to shared spectrum services,” said Tarazi in a statement.
He told RCR Wireless News that ICD “has been a long time coming,” but that the delays to commercial launch have actually been to the benefit of ecosystem development.
“Every time we hit a regulatory delay, we always end up the question, ‘Does this help or hurt?’ So far, every delay has helped continue to develop the ecosystem,” Tarazi said. He pointed out that CBRS will launch enabled on multiple devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 and the Google Pixel 3, as well as a number of IoT devices.