A research foundation at Purdue University is investing heavily in private wireless networks by partnering with a technology provider to install a network in its new business-focused development center.
The Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) is working with cell tower giant SBA Communications and startup Celona to install a private 5G network operating on the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum. The network will be inside one of PRF’s main buildings in the new Discovery Park District, a $ 1 billion 400-acre urban development adjacent to the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. Development is still in an early stage, but in ten years, the developers envision the district, which houses up to 15,000 students, residents and managers.
District officials hope to grow their budding 5G private network to provide connectivity to residents and business leaders across developments. For now, however, PRF’s private 5G network spans only six access points inside the convergence center building, a massive 143,000-square-foot office space designed to connect Purdue University with the wider business community.
“It’s showroom,” explained David Broecker, PRF’s head of innovation and collaboration. He said the private network inside the Convergence Center building supports LTE speeds of up to 100 Mbit / s and will be available to tenants in the building as a “playground” for innovation.
“We believe this will allow companies to come in and really see what’s possible,” he said, adding that network coverage and speed measurements have “opened people’s eyes to the performance of these private networks.” . ”
The network has radio equipment from Celona, spectrum management services from SBA and fiber and data center services from Tilson. Broecker said PRF is working with Watch Communications, which owns CBRS licenses in the area, to access its licensed CBRS spectrum. Broecker added that the SBA funded the university’s initial implementation, but he declined to provide the financial details.
But that’s just the beginning, according to Broecker. PRF’s ultimate goal is to figure out a way to expand the reach of the private wireless network to eventually cover the entire 400-acre district when completed.
“We look at this almost as a utility in the district,” he said, explaining that broadband may eventually be sold along with gas and electricity. “We really wanted to make this a destination for businesses and innovators.”
However, the business model that will fund this network expansion has not yet been determined. Broecker said he envisions a subscription model where district residents and tenants would pay for access to the network, thus funding its expansion. “We’re just starting to turn everything on,” he said. “So we’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to do it.”
“This is not just a one-time affair that we are trying to create here,” he added. “The vision is really to create this notion of a connected society.”
PRF is not the only organization investing in the lure of private wireless networks. For example, on Tuesday, Celona announced agreements with several other companies for other private wireless network installations around the country. Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions announced that it would build a private LTE network to Harris County, Texas, using the CBRS spectrum. And these are just a few examples of the gathering struggle around private wireless networks.
?? Mike Dano, Editor-in-Chief, 5G and Mobile Strategies, Easy Reading | @mikeddano