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Some may say that 2021 felt almost like a rehash of 2020 in terms of the challenges faced across various industries. Although enterprises in the space dealt with similar connectivity challenges, new innovations and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) solutions emerged to alleviate these issues. 

But what will 2022 hold? Several OnGo Alliance members offered up their key learnings from this year, and shared their predictions on the role CBRS connectivity and Neutral Host Network (NHN) technology will have in 2022.

Dr. Derek Peterson, CTO, Boingo: I predict that private networks operating over CBRS will have a large footprint in both indoor and outdoor deployment. With reduced costs, 5G scalability, enhanced network capacity and secure communications, private networks over CBRS open the door for innovative connected use cases and will take center stage in 2022 to power enterprise digital transformation. In 2022, CBRS will offer a great ecosystem of devices, Radio Access Network (RAN) and core support to deploy standalone architectures. We will see continued growth in the transportation, manufacturing and healthcare industries like the following: 

  • In healthcare, the secure, high-bandwidth connectivity of private networks over OnGo allows for a new frontier of remote surgeries, robotics, increased point of care testing, on-demand electronic records, AI and more. 
  • On the manufacturing front, use cases will include integrated safety and security management, equipment asset tracking and monitoring, energy management and maintenance prevention, automation and predictive line management. 
  • For transportation, OnGo connectivity is powering new security systems at major airports. Across the board, OnGo is helping to increase operational efficiencies and create truly intelligent environments – and Boingo is helping lead the way.
  • Neutral Host technology gives us two expectations to look forward to in 2022. The first is CBRS network sharing that supports both private networks and mobile network operator roaming and the second is RAN sharing. This will result in exponential growth of neutral hosting and private network deployments. 

Business Working Group Co-Chairs: Joel Lindholm, Facebook & Youssef Abdelilah, Global Innovation and Strategy- Office of the CTO, American Tower: We believe private network solutions will evolve and common use cases by vertical will start to crystalize. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and System Integrators will provide packaged solutions that resonate with enterprises as they shift from Proof-of-Concepts (POCs) into production deployments in 2022. Today many enterprises are doing POCs to understand the implications of private networks on their applications, operations, security and Return on Investment (ROI). This shift to production deployments will positively impact enterprise confidence, bring ROI clarity and drive incremental revenue for the ecosystem. 

When it comes to additional OnGo connectivity use cases, Neutral Host (NH) is now becoming accepted by the MNOs. Early NH deployments will happen in 2022, different vendors and business models will emerge. There will also be confusion in the market as customers try to understand the different options available for NH and private networks; and try to prioritize the needs for their business. Our Business Working Group will help provide clarity so the market will evolve and increase adoption. We also expect 5G versus LTE to become a more active conversation as customer’s understand the pro’s/con’s of each technology, understand which technology meets their needs, and pricing models emerge.

Richard Bernhardt,  National Spectrum Adviser – Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA): I believe that fixed wireless networks will begin to expand by leaps and bounds using CBRS in 2022. The ability to tie into either a primary or secondary band including CBRS in either GAA or PAL expands the deployment possibilities to many new areas including many un- and under-served areas.  Greater growth in FWA in CBRS means more effective broadband coverage and the extensive demand for CBSDs including eNodeBs/APs, Category A and B CBSDs, and CPE-CBSDs. In terms of use cases for OnGo connectivity that will be enabled in 2022, I believe there will be a large growth in Private Networks utilizing CBRS. Private networking through CBRS and with OnGo connectivity provides an avenue for a wide variety of unmet demand for specialized and separate networks. The addition of Neutral Host technology will also come into play, as Neutral Host will begin to find its home via CBRS in 2022. While some of the engineering for vast deployments is yet to come, Neutral Host will play an active role in CBRS deployments in 2022. Overall, CBRS will continue to grow in the WISPA and Fixed Wireless Access environments adding to existing networks and developing new networks with new and exciting vertical market opportunities. 

James Jacobellis, VP of Partners and Business Development, Geoverse: The CBRS related trend that will have the biggest impact in 2022 will be support from the cellular carriers for the CBRS device ecosystem and Neutral Host Connectivity. As OnGo connectivity continues to expand enterprises will have an economical, modular and scalable solution for making cell phones work inside of buildings and in other hard to reach areas. Also, many solution resellers will have an exciting new business case that will drive growth. Along with Neutral Host, other use case’s such as 5G IOT and smartphone use across IOS and Android will allow for more rapid and scalable deployments across verticals. As far as Neutral Host technology and deployments go for 2022, I expect cooperation and acceptance from the three major cellular carriers and a variety of large and small enterprise deployments. 

Stephen Rayment, Head of Wireless Technologies – Ericsson North America: The introduction of NR in the CBRS band in 2022 will bring the CBRS ecosystem to the latest radio state-of-the art and provide all the benefits we expect from NR in throughput, latency, reliability and others. When it comes to use cases for OnGo connectivity, all the applications conceived so far for CBRS will grow; capacity augmentation for mobile operators, mobile offload for fixed operators, fixed wireless access for WISPs, indoor mobile coverage extension and “truly private” networks. And finally, regarding Neutral Host solutions, 2022 could be the year when we see the MNOs begin to fully embrace multi-operator / NHN deployments that capitalize on the sharing enabled by CBRS, and take advantage of the promised significant cost savings.

Tadhg Kenny, Senior Vice President – Druid: The continued investment from the U.S. government with the Biden Infrastructure bill being the most recent example, will continue to provide vital funding to address the Digital Divide. This will see Fixed Wireless Access deployments continue at pace in 2022 and Wireless Internet Service Providers will continue to scale their networks next year across several counties, states and in some cases across the country with this funding. Also funding for 5G R&D in the US will see many more 5G testbeds set up around the country as various industry sectors and verticals try out the technology for their specific use cases. The developing 5G ecosystem will also benefit the Fixed Wireless Access sector, and could be one of the first commercial, scalable use cases for 5G in 2022 to provide gigabytes of throughput versus hundreds of megabytes with LTE. 2022 could be a big year for the Utility and Manufacturing sectors, as they explore what OnGo can do for their business critical communications with use cases like Industrial Automation, predictive maintenance can be leveraged in these sectors and have already been proven in other verticals by Energy providers and transport and logistics.