In Episode 08 of the Let’s Connect! Podcast, Kurt Schaubach, CTO of Federated Wireless, joins us to talk about CBRS Open Spectrum, 5G and connectivity for the growth of IoT.
Kurt Schaubach brings 25 years of wireless industry experience to Federated Wireless where he plays a key role in developing technologies and new business strategies to create the next-generation architecture of broadband wireless. Previously, Kurt served in various engineering roles at the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), NextWave Wireless, LCC International, and Southwestern Bell. He has also served as a technology consultant to wireless network operators, equipment manufacturers, and semiconductor suppliers. Kurt has been active in spectrum development, management, and policy matters throughout his career. He currently serves on the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) and has spoken at the International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) events, among many others.
Interested in connecting with Kurt? Reach out on Linkedin!
Founded in 2012, Federated Wireless has long led the industry in development of CBRS capabilities, taking a lead role in the formation of the CBRS Alliance, being the first to complete a wide range of trials with its Spectrum Controller, and deploying the industry’s first nationwide ESC network. The company’s partner ecosystem includes more than 40 device manufacturers and edge partners, all of which are dedicated to collaboration to advance development and proliferation of CBRS services. Federated Wireless’ customer base includes companies spanning the telecommunications, energy, hospitality, education, retail, office space, municipal and residential verticals, with Applications ranging from network densification and mobile offload to Private LTE and Industrial IoT. Follow Federated Wireless on Twitter!
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
2:25 What is CBRS?
5:15 Connectivity for IIoT
8:00 Connectivity architecture strategy
11:00 U.S. DoD CBRS/5G Smart Warehouse case study
14:00 Costs of private 5G networks
16:30 Advantages of shared spectrum
19:00 CBRS vs. WiFi
21:00 What does it take to deploy CBRS Open Spectrum?
- [Ken] This is the IoT For All Media Network. Hello, friends in IoT. Welcome to Let's Connect, the newest podcast in the IoT For All Media Network. I am Ken Briodagh Editorial Director for IoT For All and your host. If you enjoy this episode, please remember to like, subscribe, rate, review and comment at all your favorite podcasting platforms. And to keep up with all the IoT insights you need, visit IoTForAll.com. Before we get into our episode, the IoT market will surpass $1 trillion in the next few years. Is your business ready to capitalize on this new and growing trend? Use leverage is powerful IoT solutions development platform to efficiently create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. Help your customers increase operational efficiency, improve customer experience, or even unlock new revenue streams with IoT. To learn more, go to IoT changes everything.com, that's IoT changes everything.com. Now Let's Connect. My guest today is from Federated Wireless, Kurt Schaubach, but I may have totally mispronounced your name, I'm positive I did because I'm a bad host and forgot to ask you before we got started. So Kurt, I apologize. Kurt is CTO of Federated Wireless and has 25 years of wireless experience. Plays a key role in developing new technologies of business strategies. And is creating all of the stuff that we're using to connect to all of our things to the internet. I do that backwards, I think that worked. Kurt welcome to the show. - [Kurt] Great, thanks Ken. You're a terrific host, you did a wonderful job. My name is Kurt Schaubach. It's nice to be here with you today, as you said I've been the CTO for Federated now for six years. Federated is a company that has helped to create this new way of accessing spectrum. A new shared spectrum paradigm and something called the CBRS or Citizens Broadband Radio Service which is a really beachfront property in terms of spectrum for connectivity solutions and for IoT. So it's been really exciting to be part of creating this new ecosystem that is gonna bring all sorts of new connectivity solutions to the market. Really help them, I think energize connectivity for the enterprise. And, you know, I'm happy thrilled to talk to you about what we're doing in sort of the IoT space around connectivity. - [Ken] Yeah, and I wanna dive into that, but first before we get there, if you don't mind, could you just sort of give us a short explanation of CBRS? I'm sure there's folks out there listening that aren't familiar with it yet. And I know when I first heard the term, my first thought was my grandfather's ham radio, W 1 W K W was his call sign. And I know it's different than that. So for folks who don't have my agent references to refer to what is CBRS? - [Kurt] You bet, CBRS is a shared spectrum band. And what's unique about CBRS is that we use the power of cloud technology to organize and manage the band. So the of spectrum sharing has been around for a long time. In fact, unlicensed bands, WiFi uses a form of shared spectrum. But in that case we rely on the radio technology itself to figure out how to coordinate with users. So if multiple users of WiFi or any given area, something called a listen before talk protocol is used for each of the radios and they sort of organize themselves in a very ad hoc way. What we've done in CBRS has created a lot more value by using much more efficient methods, actual, you know software algorithms to figure out the best way to assign spectrum to different users. And that model creates a tremendous amount of flexibility. We're able to do both licensed and unlicensed uses. We can manage interference, we can provide much more deterministic access to spectrum than is otherwise been possible. The other just quick thing to note about CBRS is, it's a lot of spectrums, 150 megahertz of spectrum. And to give you sort of a frame of reference, if you look at say Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile. And you take away their real high frequency millimeter wave holdings that they're using for things like fixed wireless. And just look at the spectrum that they only use for their mobile network. In any given geography, they have about 150 megahertz of spectrum. So this is like taking the amount of spectrum that Verizon uses to serve, you know what a 100 million customers. And put it in the hands of the enterprise to do all sorts of really amazing things. - [Ken] Yeah, and that sort of leads us into the first phase of what I think we both want to talk about. Which is connectivity in general in IoT. If you want to find a more diverse and potentially complicated space than platforms, just go look at connectivity. There's so many different options, so many different things that do what they do very well in almost every case. But are often, I think single use or very focused use options. You know, if we're talking about satellite, satellites really, really good at what it does in terms of connectivity. But like it has some drawbacks, like battery life and expense and everything else. But if that's your option, you're out in the middle of the ocean, that's your option. You know, ZigBee and Z-Wave really great for certain smart home applications but you probably don't wanna use them for your car say. So let's talk about some of the applications of connectivity that are best used in industrial IoT. 'Cause I know that's sort of a home base for Federated, although you probably play pretty much everywhere. Let's start with the industrial side because that's where a lot of the enterprise folks are really operating. Everyone's concerned with supply chain connectivity right now for lots of reasons. And so what are some of the connectivity options that folks should be look at there. - [Kurt] Sure, so Ken, you know you made a great point that I just want to circle back to that here briefly, which is about the need for, or power of ecosystems when it comes to adoption of new technology. And I think that's what we've seen has been sort of an inhibitor of IoT applications. To date is that, lot of proprietary wireless technologies, lot of technologies that maybe really don't have a big ecosystem associated with them in terms of equipment and devices, you know the ability to embed connectivity into other things like sensors or cameras or other things. We're seeing all that change, with CBRS. The other really important thing that we've been able to do in CBRS, and we will continue to see in the future. So the fact that we've created this massive ecosystem of equipment of, you know, end-user device options of modules, you know, embedded capabilities. And that's really gonna drive sort of the adoption of the, you know, the IoT capability in all sorts of different market segments. You're right, sort of the industrial, you know, the IoT sort of space itself is probably the one that is leading the charge right now. There's a tremendous need for connectivity in automation, whether it's a factory or a warehouse or, you know a large industrial facility. And the reason why I think we are seeing such a sort of a big pole in the industrial space right now is because a lot of the applications that they're running around automation leveraging things like, you know, early forms of AI or other machine learning capabilities. Require, you know, very high velocity of data, require you know, secure private networks. You know, you're controlling potentially million dollar pieces of equipment on a factory floor. You want to make sure that you've got a really stable, reliable, secure connection. - [Ken] You're right and you are the one controlling that multimillion dollar piece of equipment- - [Kurt] Exactly, you don't necessarily wanna rely on a carrier to provide that service, you know that wireless capability. And you know, WiFi frankly scares you a little bit because you know that WiFi sometimes, you know, the bandwidth is unreliable, the connection drops out, you lose coverage. So that's why we're seeing this sort of, you know really ideal application for CBRS 5G in the enterprise is you know, around sort of these industrial applications. And I'll draw your attention to one project that we're doing. - [Ken] Wait, before you get into that project, I wanna explore one of the thing and then definitely this project. So in a factory or warehouse or other sort of industrial setup, it seems to me that there are a couple of different ways to accomplish connectivity. You know, there's the pretty traditional, everything is connected via often WiFi to a gateway. And then that gateway is your door to the outside internet. There's the new wave of edge architectures that are probably giving each one of those devices. Some measure of limited connectivity to a cloud, that then is the gateway to the outside world. And then there's sort of direct connectivity where each of the machines maybe has its own SIM card, cellular chip, whatever. And to me, that sort of bypasses the internal gateway entirely and maybe even never gets to the outside internet. Maybe it just stays within the internal cloud server or whatever but is not getting there via some other mechanism. And do you think that's a fair outline of the very high level broadest connectivity styles in this kind of environment? Or am I missing something or have I overstated ? - [Kurt] That was perfect. And in fact, to sort of build on that concept, there are some obvious pros and cons with each solution. You know, whether it's WiFi or sort of in a private network, like you said. Or a direct connect method that you described which is where say mobile network operator is bringing their service indoors. And each device is, you know, running over sort of you know, that macro, you know, consumer network. Each of these, you know, has sort of different pros and cons. You know, one thing that we've seen sort of the sweet spot for connectivity, this connectivity as a service offering that we provide. The use of CBRS shared spectrum and 5G sort of falls into three areas of one coverage. You know, you really want very high, reliable coverage deterministic access to spectrum. Two, control, and control means that it's a private network. Control can also mean that you're trying to achieve a degree of data sovereignty. So that's sort of that architecture that you were talking about, where you have an edge platform, you know edge compute platform, that's maybe running applications, you're keeping data locally, it's not traversing the public network. And you can use your own it staff to deploy, maintain, operate it. And the third piece is cost. So if you've got a large geography that you need to cover in doors, WiFi doesn't really scale well for that. You know, if it's a big factory floor or even if it's a campus. WiFi, you know, becomes really challenged when you're trying to, you know, do both indoor and outdoor coverage and things like that. And here again, CBRS really sort of excels at providing that, you know, ideal cost point or you know, the return on investment that you need for these smaller deployments that are indoors and larger deployments that include indoor and outdoor. - [Ken] So let's get into this project that you guys have been working on with a... It's a smart warehouse project, if I remember correctly right?. - [Kurt] That's right, it's one of many that we're doing in the connectivity area for IoT. But this one is really exciting because I think this will be the template by which 5G and shared spectrum find its way to, you know the commercial sector and the enterprise broadly. So we were awarded through a DOD RND contract vehicle, a large project that we're executing on as the prime. Federated Wireless is leading this along with a couple of other partners who were providing equipment and other software capabilities, to build a complete smart warehouse solution for the U S army in a base, based out of Albany, Georgia. This project, I think, like I said is really unique because it's, you know, using you know, full 5G. It's actually, you know integrating in concepts like, open ran to keep costs of the 5G infrastructure very low and make the solution very scalable for enterprise deployments. And we're gonna be testing out a whole bunch of applications from autonomous forklifts to, you know, equipment and material logistics from when it arrives, you know at the dock or bay all the way through the warehouse to you know, actual forward deployment with the troops themselves. These applications I think are really, you know the same sort of applications at any factory warehouse, you know, other industrial user needs to take advantage of. Like I said, I think this project with the, you know the DOD is really exciting because the smart warehouse will be a blueprint that we can follow for all sorts of future deployments as we expand out into the commercial sector. - [Ken] I wanna touch on a couple of the things you said there that I thought were interesting, but the first is, when you say DOD, you mean Department Of Defense, correct? - [Kurt] That's right, yap. - [Ken] And I assume that that means that like, they're fairly concerned with security and network infrastructure, and they've probably got some people looking into that sort of thing. So that that's just an endorsement in of itself on the network security and fidelity of the technology I would assume. - [Kurt] Security and fidelity, exactly. Those are two key things for the DOD as they're looking at this initiative is they are making direct investment and trying to build a 5G ecosystem. So that they can take advantage of, you know commercial R&D and effectively take off the shelf technology that they harden and add the other security features that they need to make sure this meets, you know the level of requirements that the DOD would have for you know, for security. So they see this as a completely different platform than say WiFi. And that's why they're making this R&D investment in terms of trying to stimulate this capability for the DOD and ultimately for the commercial sector. You think about where did GPS come from? Every, every smartphone that we have has GPS, you know that was a DOD technology that ultimately found a, you know an enormous commercial application. This is sort of the same thing that I think we're gonna see with 5G. - [Ken] The piece of 5G that I am still skeptical about, that I have yet to anyone, have anyone convinced me on is the infrastructure. It is, although an extension of existing cellular bandwidth, it is a whole new type of infrastructure that you need. As I understand that you need different repeaters, you need more frequent ones, you need a bunch of other things. And all of that to me, just keeps ringing up that register. And especially, we're not talking about like national 5G networks and things like that, which are a whole other layer of thing. But in a private 5G environment, like you seems like you're talking about generally, that has to also become a factor is cost. And you said at the same time you're being conservative about costs. So I'd like to know how you're achieving that. Especially with a client like DOD, where, and I don't like to get political but I think this is bipartisan. They don't care how much something costs. - [Kurt] Well, they do ultimately, part of the reason why they're investing here is that they do want to get out of the business of buying very specialized proprietary technology because it's expensive. Here's the big thing that's changed and shared spectrum is part of big revolution that's occurred. But I think that the key thing to see here is that with 5G and especially this focus now on, you know opening up new market segments, like bringing 5G into the enterprise, we've really broadened the scope of equipment suppliers that are able to build product for the market. And also there's been a global effort to develop Open RAN technology, which drives down costs. So if you look at what happened in the data center world you know, in order to get, you know routers and switches and other things down to price points that could sustain your support, the growth of the data center. Companies invested in developing very, you know, neutral hardware solutions that could be contract manufactured and a software stack that runs on top of it. The same thing's happening in the wireless world with 5G, where now the radio technology is becoming very dis-aggregated. You can buy the equipment from a, you know a global contract manufacturer at very low cost and then run a separate software stack on top of it. And that's sort of a dis-aggregation of hardware and software has opened up all sorts of new opportunities for smaller, more competitively priced options to come into the market. This is no longer the market where only the big global, you know, vendors who sell to telecoms are providing equipment. Now, companies that traditionally built, you know WiFi gear could now get into the 5G market as well. So I think that's, you know, Ken where you're gonna see this, you know big change in terms of affordability of infrastructure for, you know, for the enterprise. The other thing that shared spectrum specifically does and what CBRS does is, it creates a guaranteed market opportunity. It's spectrum that anyone can use. So it's not like you have to wait for a big order from a mobile network operator to come in and say, you know "I'll now build equipment with this profile of 5G to support, you know, your nationwide deployment." As an equipment supplier, I can begin building this technology 'cause I know a market exists. Whether it's mobile network operators or cable operators, or, you know a big IoT SIS to, you know, end user device makers. All of them are gonna wanna be in this business because the common denominator here is the access to a spectrum band that, you know, they know will be available, will be you know suitable for these IoT applications in the enterprise. - [Ken] That's actually really reassuring to hear. I had hoped that sort of, With scale and with technological innovation, these costs would start to come down. So that's good to hear that that's starting to happen. The other thing I wanna ask about and this I think is most relevant to like manufacturing environments and warehouse environments is, 5G is often lamented, trouble with penetration on walls and surfaces and stuff. Is that something that CBR struggles with too? Is that just not true anymore? Was it ever true? I'm no technological expert, I'll be the first to admit. That's why I have you here. - [Kurt] Okay, well, let me break it down. So a lot of the early 5G that people have heard about, and you know, this sort of early 5G, you know, where some of the service providers started deploying 5G specifically for fixed wireless, you know, to, for example provide a high speed broadband connection to, you know a residential user. That 5G, if you will, is 5G that operates in a very high portion of the radio spectrum called the millimeter wave. This is a portion of the band where there's in abundance, a huge abundance of spectrum, but the physics associated with propagation of those radio waves means that it doesn't go well around corners. It doesn't go through walls very well. It really only works in sort of a line of sight, you know, environment. So that's high band. What we call millimeter wave, where we are for CBRS, it's what's called mid band. This actually is a band that sits right between the two WiFi bands in terms of it's sort of, you know address and the radio spectrum. And, you know, you can think about it as having performance that is similar to what WiFi can do today. Which, you know, we know WiFi does penetrate walls, WiFi goes indoors and outdoors. It has a lot more power, 50 times the amount of power that you can operate with versus WiFi. So, you know, what we're gonna see is much better coverage indoors. And in fact, something that will work really well in harsh environments, like where there's a lot of you know, like a warehouse or a factory or things where you know it's a very challenging environment from an RF perspective. - [Ken] And it can carry the same kind of data load as WiFi and everything. I mean, it's not one of those super limited LTEM kind of deals where we are dealing with- - [Kurt] That's right, this will be gigabit speeds at, you know for the enterprise using 5G. So it will be able to support literally all of the applications that they need to, you know I would conceive that they need to do. And, you know because of the way 5G operates, it's suitable for fixed uses, you know, sort of nomadic uses persistent and itinerate uses and, you know, fully mobile uses. So, you know, you could have the same network supporting all of these IoT applications and you know, providing connectivity to your employees, you know to say tablets or barcode scanners or other things that, you know, they may be have on their belts and they're carrying around . - [Ken] So now I'm torn, I'm torn because I have two things that I wanna talk about, but either one easily eats up all the time we have left. So I'm going to totally abdicate my responsibility and make you choose. Would you like to talk about sort of the implementation process sort in the field, if you were putting in a CBRS network? Or would you rather have a fight about WiFi 6 versus 5G? Its totally up to you. I think the listeners are here for either one and we'll do the other one in a sequel. - [Kurt] Well, lets do the sequel, please I'll take you up on the offer and we'll save the, maybe the topic that has, you know more controversy associated with the WiFi six versus, you know, 5G debate maybe for you know, for part two. I'd like to just maybe quickly focus on what does it take to deploy this. Because, you know, that is, I think, like you said a key question that those who are starting to investigate shared spectrum and 5G, you know immediately start to ask is, you know, one, can I afford it? And two, how hard is this to actually, you know deploy and implement. And I think the other good news, you know in terms of the implementation needs is that the industry overall is doing a lot of work to really simplify this and make 5G very IT friendly. Federate explain a key role in that, you know the work that we're doing with something we call connectivity as a service is to provide a turnkey capability so that if you wanna, you know, an IoT network on 5G for your enterprise, we can come in and do it all for you. We'll act as that systems integrator. Big hyperscalers and you know other cloud providers are getting into this business. We're partnering with folks like, AWS and Microsoft Azure to bring applications with a connectivity solution to their marketplaces. So you could literally go online and, you know after a couple of clicks be able to procure, not just a, you know maybe an IOT application, but a network devices, you know, integration needed to be able to, you know for someone to come in and deploy and operate that on your behalf. So things are getting a lot easier, you know that I think over the course of this year through '21, we're gonna see much more work being done to simplify deployments, make them much easier for enterprises to, you know to wrap their arms around and get comfortable with. So that ultimately deploying 5G in the enterprise should look no more complex. In fact, maybe even less complex than what it takes to deploy WiFi today, which, you know pretty much everyone's comfortable with. No one really, you know, worries too much about that. - [Ken] I mean, I've got a mesh network in my house now and that was pretty easy. So like I figured if I could do it, how hard can it be? Unfortunately, Kurt with that is just about all the time we have. I'm gonna put a bunch of links in the show notes for you folks out there listening. So you can find out more about Federated Wireless and about Kurt Schaubach and all of the work that they're doing over there. Kurt, thank you so much for being my guest. This has been a great discussion. I really appreciate it. - [Kurt] Thank you, it's been my pleasure. - [Ken] The pleasure has been entirely mine and my listeners I'm sure. Thanks again to all of you listening out there. I hope you've enjoyed our discussion and if you have, please make sure you like and subscribe, so you don't miss out on any of our episodes. We post every week and I hope you'll leave us a rating, review and comment on your favorite podcasting platform. If you'd like to suggest a guest, please click on the link in the description. And we also have a great sister podcast on our network called the IoT For All Podcasts. So make sure you check that out. - [Ryan] Hey, Ken, let me jump in real quick and introduce your audience to another awesome show on the IoT For All Media Network. The show that started all the IoT For All Podcasts. Where I bring on experts from around the world to showcase successful digital transformation across industries. We talk about Applications in IoT solutions available in the market and provide an opportunity for those companies to share a device to help the world better understand and adopt IoT. So if you're out there listening and haven't checked it out, be sure to go check out the IoT For All Podcast available everywhere. - [Ken] Thank you, Ryan, now get back to your show. And thank you all for joining us on this episode of Let's Connect. I've been Ken Briodagh, Editorial Director of IoT For All, and your host. Our music is, Sneaking on September by Otis McDonald. And this has been a production of the IoT For All Media Network. Take care of yourselves. You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.