wireless towerThe combination of CBRS spectrum and edge computing is poised to eliminate the need for enterprises to use communications service providers to support certain cloud applications.

Enabling this option is a new category of company that includes Vapor and Packet — companies that aim to support cloud applications that will be delivered from data centers located a relatively short distance from end-users, thereby providing low latency.

This approach could mesh well with the commercialization of CBRS spectrum, which can support relatively high-speed connectivity over licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

Federated Wireless also will play a role in supporting this new approach to cloud connectivity, as Telecompetitor learned this week in a conversation with Federated Wireless President and CEO Iyad Tarazi.

CBRS and Edge Computing
Federated is best known as the operator of a spectrum access system (SAS) that enables CBRS equipment to be automatically configured to use a portion of the spectrum band where it is not in use by the U.S. military. The ability to share spectrum on this basis was critical to freeing up the CBRS band for commercial use. The industry is still putting the pieces into place to enable commercial use of the full CBRS band and the recent government shutdown delayed that process, but Tarazi expects that goal to be met this year.

Importantly, Federated also has developed evolved packet core (EPC) and other software that will provide functionality that previously resided in communications networks and which could be particularly powerful when used in combination with the Federated SAS.

As Tarazi explained, “We turn spectrum and connectivity into a software API [application programming interface].” He sees this approach having strong appeal to enterprise users who, he said, will be able to turn up connectivity in a matter of hours.

Some enterprises already are working on enabling specialty cloud applications that would use this approach and would be delivered from Vapor or Packet edge data centers supported by Federated’s software, Tarazi said. A hypothetical example might include an airport that wants to automate security using 300 cameras supported by edge computing.

A company like Vapor could be thought of as a combination data center, cloud provider and cell tower operator, Tarazi noted. He also noted, though, that the CBRS access point would be at the customer premises and connect to the edge data center via fiber.

Federated also is working with some major data center operators on similar offerings, he added.

Federated, Packet and Vapor are all participating in the Kinetic Edge Alliance, which, according to a Vapor website,  is focused on creating nationwide edge computing infrastructure, “to support 5G, autonomous vehicles and many other exciting technologies.” The website indicates that the alliance also aims to work with traditional wireless carriers.

What Federated, Packet and Vapor are working on in some ways parallels the edge computing initiatives that traditional wireless operators like AT&T and Verizon are pursuing and it will be interesting to see how and to what extent the new players will impact the old guard in this market.

Tarazi noted that he also expects to be more active in the Telecom Infra Project – an initiative originally started by Facebook with the goal of “reimagining traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.”

CBRS Update
Tarazi also offered some other updates on industry readiness for commercial CBRS launches:

  • Federated is in the process of deploying sensors along the U.S. coastline that will enable the company to know when the CBRS band is in use by military users at sea
  • Samsung will be launching a Galaxy 10 device that will have CBRS connectivity and will be the second such device after a Google Pixel model
  • Although seven companies applied to be SAS providers, Tarazi said Federated is “far in the lead” in terms of preparedness for a commercial launch and in the number of companies it has signed up to work with

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