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An Analysis of Aggregate CBRS SAS Data from April 2021 to January 2023

May 01, 2023

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band at 3550–3700 MHz was authorized for shared commercial use in the United States (established June 23, 2015) through the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). One unique aspect of CBRS was the introduction of Dynamic Protection Areas (DPAs) in which commercial entrants could dynamically share the spectrum with protected incumbents. Dynamic sharing is enabled by automated Spectrum Access Systems (SASs), which, among other tasks, manage the operation of commercial entrants to protect incumbent users when and where they operate. The goals of CBRS were to facilitate growth in wireless broadband devices, provide cost-effective wireless broadband access for rural communities, enhance economic competitiveness by creating new jobs and new businesses, increase productivity, spur innovation, and improve public safety.

To quantify progress towards meeting these goals, the NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) obtained operational data from the SAS administrators on a quarterly basis to facilitate longitudinal analyses. This report provides a presentation and analysis of the data acquired for the period from April 1, 2021, to January 1, 2023.

Nationwide numbers of Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) by quarter are provided, broken down into the following categories: type (i.e., Category A or B), installation type (i.e., indoor or outdoor), license tier (i.e., Priority Access, General Authorized Access, or mixed license), air interface, and location type (i.e., urban or rural). Nationwide numbers of active grants by quarter provided are broken down by license tier, maximum allowed radiated power, bandwidth, and channel usage. Choropleth maps illustrate categorical CBSD statistics by state and county. Mean band utilization, defined as the mean number of channels granted per county, is used to quantify the amount of newly available spectrum that is used throughout the country. Finally, the report examines active CBSD counts and band utilization within DPA- impacted and non-impacted counties to investigate the impact of dynamic spectrum sharing.

The following are key findings from this analysis:

  • CBRS deployments grew at a steady rate with a mean quarterly increase of 12.0% and a total increase of 121% over the 21-month analysis period.
  • On January 1, 2023, there were 128,351 active CBSDs in DPA-impacted counties with a total population of 232,348,897 residents.
  • The number of CBSDs with Priority Access License (PAL) grants grew consistently with a mean increase of 17% per quarter, but General Authorized Access (GAA) CBSDs dominated deployments. On January 1, 2023, four out of five active CBSDs were GAA-only, 85% of the active grants were GAA, and two-thirds of active CBSDs with a PAL grant had at least one active GAA grant.
  • More than 70% of all active CBSDs were deployed in rural census blocks on January 1, 2023

The authors are especially grateful for the cooperation and assistance of both the SAS administrators and the FCC in developing this first-of-its-kind report. Without their support, this report would not have been possible.

An Analysis of Aggregate CBRS SAS Data from April 2021 to January 2023