Setting Up A Private LTE Network in the USA
Updated: May 30, 2022
Private LTE - General Definition
Private LTE network is a privately-owned cellular network that supports an organization’s specific requirements, for the benefit of that particular organization. The access to the network is only for authorized users of that organization. Thus, the organization decides the coverage range, how the network will perform and who would have access and priority.
In simple points, a Private LTE network is:
An LTE Network not open for public / general access
Can Be Deployed by Anyone
Limited Access to Known Devices – Devices with a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) configured to access the network
What is Private-LTE in the USA - Private LTE networks are privately-owned cellular networks made of multiple components, including radio hardware (both indoors and outdoors), mobile core software, SIM cards and a network orchestration software that can be configured to support an enterprise’s specific requirements. This is similar to the public cellular networks most of us use every day via our smartphones, but in this case, the network is owned and operated by a private institution like a business, hospital, university, factory, or other enterprise and bound geographically to its property.
Private LTE networks use the same technology as Public LTE commercial network, but without having to pay the main mobile operators network and you are in control of where the network covers, what devices can connect, which devices have priority over one another and which applications should be protected with a specific throughput, latency and packet error service level - also known as the SLA (Service Level Agreement).
There are four main elements of a Private LTE in the USA:
LTE Small Cells (eNodeB): An eNodeB is the hardware that is connected to the mobile phone network that communicates directly with mobile handsets, like a base transceiver station (BTS) in GSM networks.
Core network - Evolved Packet Core (EPC): EPC represents the LTE core network, the essential infrastructure elements necessary for an LTE wireless network.
Spectrum Access System (SAS): Provided by companies, such as Federated Wireless, the SAS usage of the shared spectrum of CBRS safely and without interfering with critical communications of government and military agencies.
End User Device (EUD): A mobile (or fixed) device – Maximum transmit power of <23 dBm/10 MHz (<200 mW).
The first two make up the main components of the LTE network.
SAS allows a business to utilize CBRS safely and without interfering with critical communications of government and military agencies.
What is CBRS?
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), 150 MHz band – 3.5 GHz to 3.65 GHz - was previously licensed for use by US Military Radar Systems, Fixed-Wireless Access, etc. FCC defined rules for use of CBRS band by other participants in Part 96 regulations.
Access is divided into 3 tiers - first priority incumbents - previous users of the band, may be mobile and intermittent). Second is Priority Access License (PAL) - preferential access, auctioned by the FCC on a per-county basis. The third one is the General Authorized Access (GAA) – allowed to use, if nobody else is using.
The CBRS is managed by Spectrum Access Systems (SASs) that controls access to the band. PALs and GAA are only allowed to use the band, if the SAS allows it. SASs also control models propagation and incumbent activity to ensure that incumbents are not interfered with and PALs protected from GAA interference, while GAA is unprotected.
Steps and procedures to set your Private-LTE Network*
Step 1 – Gathering Requirements
• Determine What it is Your Private LTE Network Needs To Do: Some of the key questions that you should address
What is the Primary Purpose of your network?
Understanding the depth and width of an organization’s need for a network can either be too general or too specific. Organizations that control their own networking infrastructure / environment can easily modify the technology and optimize it for their own purposes. In a simple term, the P-LTE must be able to support the business needs of the organization.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Once you have a clear understanding of the P-LTE supporting the business needs of the organization, a visit to the present system is next. General issues at each horizontal and vertical point probably can be identified much easier but there may be issues that have to be addressed in each horizontal function and there may be specific vertical issues in every point of the horizontals.
Who will it be connecting?
Each functional point in the organization (whether manned or managed by machines) will have to be taken into consideration prior to setting up your P-LTE network. Whether readily functional or there will be the needs to upgrade/ upskill these points, it will have to be identified at this stage.
Are they going to be mobile?
If the functional points are humans or machines that move around the organizational complex, the accessibility and functional coverage of the P-LTE must be tailored to these functional points.
What kind of data will they be transmitting & receiving?
The type of data would also have to be identified. The readily functional points may have the specific type of data transmission and reception but for the benefit of future expansion, you should be focusing on the capability to extend the functions and ensure the P-LTE network would be able to support it. At the very least, it should be able to be extended with less hassle and cost.
What level of security do you need?
This is probably the most important part of the P-LTE consideration. In general, P-LTE network security is more secure than WiFi network. While you may have P-LTE security options “out of the box”, it is good to scrutinize whether the functional points would be ready for such security measures - the capabilities of the present devices and possible expansion to other functions in the future.
Step 2 – Survey & Planning
• Site Survey
Switching to a new networking infrastructure for business use would require some steps to consider (if you haven’t yet) to set the scene for the best possible results: a comprehensive review of your location, the needs of your people, and the availability of public infrastructure are only a few—all within the context and goals of your project: bandwidth, applications, projected data traffic. The focus on comprehensive review of location is to be managed with your survey and planning, where you will be scoping out what are the problems you are going to solve the findings from Step 1.
Overall dimensions to be covered
This is the most important part of the overall deployment function. You will need a comprehensive sketch of the coverage area, not a complete blueprint of area coverage but to get an overall sense of the space, what are the dimensions of the area to be covered.
Location of major obstructions
It is also important to recognize the locations of major obstructions that would interfere with the signal propagations - metal objects, walls.
Location of power and data infrastructure
Take note of the present location of power source and base stations / access points and whether it can be used for the new deployment - that’s the fastest and easiest way to install the P-LTE base stations or CBSDs.
Device & Subscriber Density
You will have to identify the areas where most users are going to be, the density of key areas and where most users or devices are going to be.
Key Device Location
Identify location of critical / key devices
• Estimate Traffic Needs
Anticipated traffic drives many different aspects of design. Thus, this is a very important part of the deployment because the network design will be based on the survey and the estimated traffic needs.
Calculation is pretty straight forward: Bandwidth needed = Source x Number
HD Voice Call
4K HD Video
This will get you the number of 10MHz channels needed, proper placements of CSBDs, your backhaul requirements and Uplink / downlink allocation and the initial part of equipment selection.
The next calculation is for your estimated Channel Bandwidth. Calculating the capacity of P-LTE system is quite a complex calculation but you can refer use available application such as www.cellmapper.net/4G-speed with a couple if factors that needs to be considered like Time Division Duplex (TDD) configuration (Config. 1 = balanced, Config. 2 = Downlink heavy & Config. 6 = Uplink heavy), MIMO, carrier aggregation modulation, data modulation and whether the devices you have in your P-LTE will be static or dynamic.
• Determine if Priority Access License (PAL) is Needed
Generally PAL is not needed, especially for indoor P-LTE. PAL is worth getting only if you have a large coverage area or outdoor deployment using Category B CBSDs and High Mission criticality because PALs are less likely to be interfered with. PAL is also worth getting if you are in a crowded environment i.e. lots of CBRS networks in the area.
• Access will be denied by SAS?
Very Unlikely but it depends on your location and the type of license you have. If you are in an area where Incumbents (highest level of priority) are operating in their fixed sites or with mobile sources like naval radar systems typically along the coasts. You would probably have less access if you are located where incumbents are operating. PALs Have Priority over GAA and SASs allocate GAA channels to avoid interference with PALs. However, 80 MHz are reserved for GAA thus majority of the channels goes to GAA. You can get connected with the SASs and they will be able to give information on the traffic situation in your area i.e. incumbents in the area, other GAA users, etc.
Step 3 – Design
• Detailed Design of System
There are integrated design providers that can help you with this but you will still have to answer the critical questions:
Where CBSDs are going
How they need to configured
Core network configuration
• Select Vendors
Although you may be capable to do it on your own, vendors will provide the detailings of:
CBSD Configuration - TDD configuration (downlink/uplink weight), Channel configuration (10 MHz, 20 MHz, etc.)
CBSD Placement Decision, signal strength in desired coverage area, plumbing for power and backhaul
Step 4 – Installation
When the design stage is done, it is time for installation and switching your P-LTE on. This segment requires CPI (Certified Professional Installer) which can be hired or alternatively you can also opt to become a CPI with a one day training program. The CPI is required by the regulation of CBRS, certified to register your network to the SAS and will be responsible to:
Install & Configure CBSDs
Power & backhaul connections
CPI registers with SAS
Install & Configure Network Core
Once your network is registered and switched on you will be connected in a matter of seconds.
Step 5 – Operation
Once your P-LTE is functioning, you will have to start monitoring on:
• Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Uptime, dropped calls, and your set of indicators of matrixes to gauge the expected performance of the P-LTE against the actual performance it delivers.
• Define Alarms and Alerts
Get the IT Unit to set the parameter of problem notification and other when to notify of a problem (e.g. SAS revokes access to channel)
If the P-LTE is being built with an Integrated Solutions Provider, the KPI should already be in the contract that you have agreed to in the initial stage.
*The source of information is from CBRS Alliance Info
P-LTE vendors in USA
In recent years, many companies have arrived in the P-LTE vendor scene in the USA. Listed below are some of the most prominent names:
Cisco Systems, Inc.
HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
T-Systems International GmbH
Vodafone Group Plc
You can always get an updated lists of the vendors from the internet, one source of information that can be tailored to meet your requirement is from ResearchAndMarkets
Benefits of Private LTE
Some of the benefits for an organization to have
Customization: Design, architect, and optimize private LTE network to the enterprise’s specific needs. Designs can be tailored to specific objectives such as connecting campus facilities, or optimized for uptime through ultra-fast 5G IoT connectivity.
Security: Keep all your sensitive information and confidential data on your network rather than going through someone else’s. This helps protect data by default through SIM authentication and allow for HIP
AA/PCI compliant networks.
Reliability: Optimize for low latency and a level of reliability that Wi-Fi can’t compete with. Commercial LTE may have higher speeds, but it lacks the ability to have custom SLAs or filters to be applied.
Capacity: Expand capacity beyond what Wi-Fi could offer. Capacity can be customized based on objective. For example, designing private LTE for a baseball stadium would use different hardware than a private LTE deployment for a factory floor.
Coverage: For large buildings and campuses that Wi-Fi just can’t cover. On a physical level, Wi-Fi lacks the power output needed to cover large spaces effectively and has challenges handling outdoor connectivity. From the way Wi-Fi was built it was never meant to scale to serve thousands of devices at once. Cellular on the other hand was built with large distances in mind, with 5G being able to support 1 million devices over a 1km area.
Getting the workforce connected on P-LTE Network
Your P-LTE network, the would have the predetermined options of:
Closed P-LTE Environment (totally stand-alone environment)
All the allowed devices can only function within the environment.
Not connected to the outside environment (internet and cellular network that would allow interconnectivity with other devices not within the stand-alone environment.
Connected P-LTE Environment (connection to the rest of the world)
All or some selected devices will be allowed access to the outside environment.
Connected to the internet or a cellular network.
CBRS Ready Devices that can get connected on CBRS P-LTE network
By the end of 2023, 90% of mobile devices would already be CBRS P-LTE ready - which means we can get connected on CBRS P-LTE with ease. For the time being, not all devices (mobile phones, tablet, laptops) are CBRS P-LTE ready. Private LTE/5G capable devices in the market is listed and frequently updated by Celona Network
Tablet / Laptop List:
Apple iPad Mini
Apple iPad Mini
Apple iPad Pro 4th Gen
Apple iPad Pro M1
Dell Latitude 9510
Getac A140 Rugged
Getac K120 Rugged
Getac UX10 Rugged
HP Elite Dragonfly
HP Elite X360
Lenovo Thinkpad X1
Lenovo Thinkpad P1
Lenovo Thinkpad T14s
Lenovo Thinkpad X13
Lenovo Yoga 5G
Lenovo Yoga 13W
Microsoft Surface Duo
Panasonic Toughbook G2
Panasonic ToughBook 55
RuggON PM/PX Rugged
Zebra L10 Rugged
Apple iPhone 11
Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 13
Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Apple iPhone SE 2020
Google Pixel 4/4XL
Google Pixel 4a
Google Pixel 5a
Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 6 Pro
LG V60 5G and Velvet 5G
Motorola One 5G UW
Motorola Razr 2020
Motorola SLN 1000
OnePlus 7T and 7 Pro
OnePlus 8 T
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro
OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
Samsung S10 and Note10
Samsung S20 5G
Samsung S21 5G
Samsung Tactical Edition
Samsung xCover Pro
Samsung Z Flip 3
Samsung Z Fold 2
Samsung Z Fold 3
Sony Xperia 1 III
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 III
How to immediately get your devices in your P-LTE connected to each other?
Introducing Voice Ping in P-LTE
VoicePing (VP) is an integrated application for field communication. It allows voice, text, photos, videos, GPS and can be controlled by the Administrator on a desktop / laptop.
The advantages of deploying VP on P-LTE:
1) Coverage: With mobile networks (2G/3G/4G/WiFi/ P-LTE), you will always be able to reach workers. P-LTE will allow you full control of the devices within your organization and with VP you can set access for selected devices to get connected to the outside environment. If your P-LTE is connected to a telco line, you would already have your own Nation-wide network where you can control and monitor the devices easily.
2) Instant Communication: The receiver hears you as you speak. When you finish speaking, the receiver is able to reply. VoicePing Walkie Talkie App works like a two way radio. The ability to conduct instant communication is necessary especially for scenarios like moving goods, guiding vehicles etc. where seconds matter.
3) Paging: Need to urgently get hold of someone? Use our paging feature. When you page a user, their phone keeps beeping and vibrating until they reply to you.
4) Visibility: You can see if your colleague is online, whether he has received and heard your message.
A Smart Option for P-LTE
VP will make your P-LTE complete in a very short time. The devices within the P-LTE Can be registered quickly and the administrator will be able to control the access of each device. Instead of relying on multiple vendors and service providers, you are in total control of your P-LTE network and devices.
VP can be used in totally stand-alone & connected P-LTE - you don’t have to get connected to a telco line in order for you to get you VP working but if you are connected to a telco line, you can control the access of each device.
Enterprise Solutions - $6 per month
Unlimited Private Channels
All Channels are private
Create and manage users via Admin Page
Only one channel
Private Channel for your family & friends
5 free users
Additional Users at $72 per user per yea
Choose from 9999 public channels
You can only join 1 channel at a time.
Anyone else can also join the same channel.