In September 2022, JBG SMITH inked a strategic partnership with Federated Wireless to innovate and deploy 5G Private Wireless at the National Landing. According to the announcement, the two companies will create an interoperable 5G Private Wireless network showcase with a special focus on leveraging Private Wireless networks to support innovation in next generation technologies including IoT, AI, advanced robotics, AR/VR, and cloud/edge computing. Under the partnership, Federated Wireless will design, deploy, and manage 5G Private Wireless networks available for tenants and residents in indoor and outdoor areas across JBG Smith’s National Landing portfolio.
Last month, I interviewed Kurt Schaubach, CTO of Federated Wireless, about the connection between his work and efforts to advance Smart and Connected Communities. As you will see, for Kurt, there is a direct connection between CBRS, Private 5G, shared spectrum and Smart Communities. I am very pleased to share a summary of my 5-question interview with Kurt Schaubach.
Connected Communities: As CTO of Federated Wireless, a company offering a solution for managing access to spectrum, do you see your work and the offerings of your company as advancing smart and connected communities. If so, what is the connection you see?
Kurt Schaubach: I see our work at Federated Wireless as right at heart of Smart Communities. Recently, I participated in a Private 5G launch event at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. At the event, Cal Poly’s President spoke about how the new 5G Innovation Lab is an illustration of the institution’s “learn by doing” approach. The Innovation Lab utilizes Cal Poly’s private wireless network, which operates in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band. Deployed via a partnership with Federated Wireless and AWS,Cal Poly’s network will enhance connectivity and safety for the community and unlock academic and research opportunities for both students and faculty.
It was notable, I thought, that Dr. Jeong Woo, Head of the Construction Management Department at Cal Poly, also spoke at the launch event. For Dr. Woo, the new network’s connectivity will enable innovative applications such as 3D image capture and augmented reality for construction projects. From enhancing community safety, to enabling student-led research and transforming the construction management industry, Cal Poly’s goals for its campus and its community are ambitious. At the launch event, it was clear that Cal Poly’s leaders see their new Private 5G as a critical building block.
CC: A few of my recent blogs have highlighted CBRS deployments at corporate and educational campuses. In these blogs, I have referred to wireless deployments as leveraging “shared spectrum” solutions. Is “sharing” the right word to convey what Federated Wireless is seeking to enable and support in the marketplace? Why or why not?
KS: Not really. It does seem to me that using the word “sharing” can distract from the fact that, at Federated Wireless, we enable our customers to deploy and control networks that they own. “Sharing” reflects a technical complexity around RAN-core operation — complexity that most users of wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, don’t care much about. The key message is that new technologies enable organizations, such as Cal Poly, to stand-up private networks completely independent of mobile operators.
The market success of CBRS and Private 5G is evidence that the technology is ready for prime time. Spectrum sharing is the future. — Kurt Schaubach, Federated Wireless
CC: From your perspective, is CBRS a success story? Why or why not?
KS: Yes, I think so. The numbers tell the story: 500+ customers; 300K devices. CBRS networks support a diversity of use cases — private wireless, rural, enterprise deployments big and small. I think of CBRS as a complete success. Of course, there is always opportunity to improve and, indeed, I expect continued innovation around CBRS. In the months and years to come, we will see CBRS networks supporting a growing number of use cases.
CC: What is your reaction to those who assert that the technology regimes designed to support “spectrum sharing” are not yet ready for prime time?
KS: The market success of CBRS and Private 5G is evidence that the technology is ready for prime time. Spectrum sharing is the future. That policymakers are preparing to establish in Automated Frequency Coordination in the 6GHz band suggests to me that questions of technical feasibility are a largely settled issue.
CC: What — if anything — would you want interested parties working in local government, at universities and for forward-looking real estate developers to understand about the policy discussions surrounding shared spectrum? Are there avenues through which members of the “Smart and Connected Community” ecosystem can and should share their goals and concerns related to wireless solutions?
KS: It would be great if organizations that are using shared spectrum and private 5G would share what they like about it. I think the goal is less about influencing the FCC and more about highlighting the wide array of use cases that are enabled by the technology. For instance, John Deere has been outspoken about how they will use Private 5G wireless to enhance its factory operations. To me, difficult to foresee use cases for private 5G — such as John Deere’s use case — provide evidence that we are only starting to realize the value of spectrum sharing.
About this Medium Site
On this Medium site, I explore an array of topics related to the transformative power of smart and connected communities. A central question for this observer of the so-called smart community movement: how will municipalities, real estate developers, universities and other leading organizations develop, deploy and support smart and connected community projects at scale?
I welcome feedback and comments from readers.