Using Shared Spectrum to Enable and Support the Smart Corporate Campus of the Future
In November 2018, Amazon selected Arlington, Virginia as the site of its “HQ2.” Since then, JBG Smith, the developer of the National Landing site in Arlington, has been assembling the technological building blocks that will enable and support what executives have described as the United States’ first 5G Smart City at Scale. Looking ahead to the needs of the innovative companies that will be based at National Landing, the company is committed to delivering unparalleled connectivity at the site.
Indeed, to unleash innovative use cases that will drive the Smart Corporate Campus of the future, JBG Smith plans to deploy a 5G private wireless network that leverages a “shared spectrum” solution. In this post, I outline JBG Smith’s plans to deploy an innovative wireless network at National Landing, explore the technical and business reasons that explain why JBG Smith is deploying a shared spectrum solution and consider what 5G private wireless might portend for Smart Corporate Campuses of the future.
Author’s note: On March 3, 2023 Amazon announced it will pause Phase II of the National Landing development. Phase I of National Landing is on track for delivery during the summer of 2023 and JBG Smith continues to develop National Landing for Amazon and other tenants.
JBG Smith’s Plans for a Purpose-Built Wireless Network at National Landing
Over the last five years, JBG Smith has announced spectrum license acquisitions and several strategic partnerships related to the wireless networks at the National Landing development. The announcements reveal that JBG Smith is designing and building a flexible and ubiquitous wireless network at the same time it is designing and building the more tangible elements of the site. To JBG Smith, the wireless network for National Landing is too important to be added on like frosting on top of a cake. Instead, the wireless network is being purpose-built for the site and the site’s tenants; the wireless network is being baked into the cake.
Copied below is a summary of three key announcement from JBG Smith regarding their plans to deploy private 5G wireless at National Landing in Arlington:
· September 2020 — JBG Smith acquires seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) covering Arlington County via a national FCC auction. Purchased for $25.3 million, the seven licenses total 40 MHz in Arlington and 30 MHz in Alexandria.
· July 2021 — JBG Smith signs letter of intent (LOI) with AT&T to deliver a “5G Smart City” at National Landing. While the announcement did not include a lot of specifics, the press release accompanying the announcement of the LOI states that “JBG Smith is uniquely positioned to support the continuing roll-out of AT&T’s fast, reliable, and secure 5G network. A combination of mmWave and sub6 5G spectrum will be enabled by an interconnected series of building side-mounts, street furniture, and underground network infrastructure.”
· September 2022 — JBG SMITH inked a strategic partnership with Federated Wireless to innovate and deploy 5G Private Wireless at the National Landing. According to a release from Federated Wireless, 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 edge and cloud 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.
To the readers of my previous posts about the Smart Park in Las Vegas and the Smart Campus at Northern Arizona University, JBG Smith’s decision to deploy a private network may not be a surprise. Many cities and universities and their connectivity providers are deploying an array of technologies including Wi-Fi, LoRaWAN, CBRS, LTE, private wireless networks and fiber and coax wired networks to deliver effective connectivity solutions for smart and connected communities.
A Private 5G Wireless Network at National Landing Ensures JBG Smith Can Meet the Needs of Forward-Looking Tenants
In her January 2023 article for NAREIT, Michele Lerner explores in detail the reasons JBG Smith has decided to deploy Private 5G wireless connectivity at National Landing. Lerner quotes Adam Rashid, JBG Smith’s SVP and Head of Smart Cities and Digital Infrastructure, extensively throughout her piece. In the article, Rashid explains that his company has focused on Private 5G wireless to respond to the current and future needs of National Landing’s tenants.
In 2019, JBG Smith surveyed executives from 125 companies and asked respondents to rank what considerations would most influence their choice of a new location for their offices. Survey respondents identified connectivity as the second most important consideration — trailing only the availability of talent. According to Rashid, the survey validated JBG Smith’s thesis that potential tenants for National Landing “want robust digital infrastructure to build their business.”
To deploy the private wireless network at National Landing, JBG Smith has partnered with Federated Wireless, a private wireless and shared spectrum services company. In a release accompanying the announcement of the strategic partnership with JBG Smith, Federated Wireless’s, Iyad Tarazi, makes the following statement:
“Our partnership with JBG Smith is all about enabling shared spectrum solutions to power the next generation of connected businesses, cities and people.”
The power that Tarazi refers to relates to the fact that a private 5G network enables JBG Smith to offer the tenants of National Landing access to a customizable wireless network. According to Rashid, JBG Smith will leverage the customable private 5G network to enable their tenants to “extend their private wireless network over all of National Landing, a single office space, or an entire building.”
Deploying a Wireless Network Using CBRS Spectrum — Transforming an Expense into an Asset
The CBRS network at National Landing will both be a differentiator for potential tenants and a monetizable asset for JBG Smith. Because the CBRS spectrum licenses cover small geographic areas and use low power signals, it made financial sense for JBG Smith to purchase a Priority Access License (PAL) for the National Landing area. Under this license JBG Smith owns an asset it can commercialize, borrow-against and/or sell. Moreover, via the Federated Wireless Spectrum Exchange owners of PALs can lease under-utilized spectrum to third parties to supplement General Authorized Access (GAA) availability.
Will the Smart Corporate Campuses of the Future Rely on Shared Spectrum Solutions like Private Wireless Networks?
For potential tenants at National Landing, the ability to manage and control their own wireless environment will be appealing. Indeed, Rashid notes that 130,000 square feet of leases were signed between March and November 2022, in part because of the digital infrastructure available at National Landing. JBG Smith’s decision to deploy a private wireless network is in-line with the dramatic growth of private network deployments worldwide. Data published by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association indicate the number of private networks deployed worldwide nearly doubled between August 2021 and September 2022. And this dramatic growth in the market for private wireless networks would seem to be the tip of the iceberg. John Walsh, Accenture’s Chief Sales Officer, referring to the National Landing site observed the following:
“the physical location and the digital capabilities that are enabled in this environment are probably 15 years ahead of anything else that we’re seeing.”
A shared spectrum solution leveraging CBRS spectrum can help ensure a real estate developer can meet the needs of forward-looking tenants and enable innovative use cases that differentiate their property. Moreover, acquiring a CBRS spectrum license can transform an expense into an asset. JBG Smith’s announcements/plans for National Landing serve a roadmap for other developers — we should expect other developers to follow suit and leverage shared spectrum solutions to enable and support the Smart Corporate Campuses of the future.
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?
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