Frequencies for private 4G/5G - available now
A few years back we were hanging around at Slush, the flashy start-up event in Helsinki promoting Kuha community hosted base stations. To our surprise a lot of the local visitors approached us and wanted own base stations - either to homes where connectivity was poor or to the summer cottage, where building Wifi to cover all relevant spots had turned into a nightmare. Those days we could not help as the local mobile operators showed little interest in giving private persons or communities any role in their network roll-outs or operation.
Times have changed. The discussion around 5G has brought enterprise use cases into the spotlight and - perhaps as a side product - given a boost to the idea of private mobile networks. Also the regulators are getting the point.
Shared spectrum usage is promoted by Ofcom in the UK. Mobile operators can sub-license spectrum in areas they are not serving. For rural initiatives this is a major boost. In the US CBRS gives access to a large chunk of spectrum using General Authorized Access (GAA). The downside is that incumbent users and Priority Access Licensees (who have paid for the spectrum) get higher priority and may starve the GAA users. Then again if missing radio coverage is the problem you try to solve it is unlikely that any commercial providers will storm your farm, mining area - or whatever it is, you want to connect. Shared spectrum essentially allows utilizing frequency resources that are locally unused.
Since July 1st 2020 you can have an affordable local license for LTE Band 40 (2300 - 2400 MHz) in Finland. Let's see, if this speeds up the deployment of private mobile networks. So far there are some tens. There is clearly a lot of room for new initiatives.