The CBRS spectrum system developed in the US to share the 3.5 GHz band has failed to meet expectations, according to a new study from Recon Analytics. The review, commissioned by the mobile industry group CTIA, claims that CBRS “remains unproven and carries a heavy opportunity cost when compared to exclusive-use, licensed commercial spectrum”. 

Recon Analytics conducted a review of the publicly available information about CBRS performance, use cases and market dynamics following the commercialization of the band. The few real-world studies on CBRS usage it found “suggest CBRS spectrum is underutilized”, while the most prevalent use cases are traditional wireless deployments, “suggesting CBRS is not driving innovative new use cases”, the CTIA said in a statement.

The paper also claims that exclusive-use, licensed commercial spectrum has succeeded in the areas where CBRS has fallen short. Mobile operators have increased their spectrum efficiency by 42 percent over the past decade, prices have declined 43 percent, and spectrum auctions have delivered USD 177 billion to the US treasury, the report said. 

The CTIA said the research shows that US authorities should refrain from using the shared model for other bands. 

The industry group WifiForward said the study uses “cherry-picked data and overlooks robust success across many different industries”. It noted that the FCC had authorised CBRS just 18 months ago and as of May there were already more than 228,000 CBRS devices deployed. “Importantly, this model has also enabled smaller players, such as schools, libraries and health systems, to connect students and healthcare workers to essential connectivity,” the group said. 

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