Love Field Gears Itself for 5G

July 24, 2018
A CBRS trial for airport operations has prepared Dallas for 5G wireless.

Dallas Love Field (DAL) took a major step toward the next-generation of communication July 23, with the deployment of a private LTE cellular network on the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

Derek Peterson, chief technology officer for Boingo Wireless, said the deployment is part of a trial program to enhance the communications technology at DAL. The system will initially be used for airport operations and eventually roll out to a wider usage.

“It’s this new way of looking at spectrum and to get spectrum to where we need it to be able to meet the needs of the consumer,” Peterson said. “This CBRS is a foray into that and Dallas Love Field wanted to be a part of that.”

CBRS allocates 3.5 GHz on demand in a shared spectrum model. It is viewed as key spectrum for the eventual rollout of 5G networks in U.S. It’s utilized by Navy vessels and satellite providers, but Peterson said a lot of the spectrum goes unused, so it provides an opportunity to utilize the technology in airports.

He said the technology can also be utilized in areas with more naval traffic without interference given how little it’s utilized.

“DAL is proud to be part of this trailblazing achievement and lead the airport industry into the future of wireless innovation,” said Mark Duebner, director of aviation at DAL in a press release. “As our wireless partner, Boingo has delivered cellular DAS, Wi-Fi and Passpoint solutions that help power an outstanding passenger experience.
“We are now excited to embrace next generation technologies like CBRS to maintain our leadership position.”

Peterson said the trial allows DAL’s IT department to not have to utilize the spectrum being used by all of the travelers within the airport. It provides a dedicated spectrum for use in airport operations.

They will eventually allow a carrier or operator to roam onto the network, then look at carrier aggregation licensed use cases. There are not currently a lot of consumer devices that can leverage the technology, but as they become available on the market, the setup will allow for access.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted Boingo Special Temporary Authority (STA) to conduct the CBRS trial at DAL. Peterson said they want to continue the trial, but are optimistic the FCC will grant permission to wider use of CBRS in the near future.

“Right now you’re still on a special authority because the FCC hasn’t approved this for commercial use yet,” he said. “But what’s interesting though is that they did approve a few weeks ago that you’re allowed to commercially sell the equipment, but you still have to get this special trial authority to be able to deploy it.

“Our hope is that gets resolved here in the next few months so that we don’t have to keep getting extensions on the STA.”