ClearSky Technologies: Enabling In-building Public and Private Cellular Service for Everyone

The endless growth of connected devices, machine-to-person and machine-to-machine communications in both professional and personal settings creates an ever-expanding need for reliable high-speed wireless communications. This requirement for seamless connectivity is further amplied amid the rapid migration to remote work environments brought about by COVID-19. Existing 4G/LTE and nascent 5G public cellular networks are a critical connectivity tool for remote workers as their primary alternative, Wi-Fi networks, are low power, short range, best effort networks with limited ability to hand-off seamlessly from one access point to another.

Cellular networks based on 4G/LTE or 5G technologies offer a more secure, scalable and resilient solution compared to Wi-Fi. However, cellular networks are not without their faults. Public cellular networks from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are primarily designed for outdoor coverage using towers, and inevitably face in-building coverage and network connectivity issues when the radio has to travel through multiple layers of heavy construction materials or through the coated windows of energy-efficient buildings. Even when coverage is not a problem, many organizations have not adopted public cellular technology as their primary connectivity solution because of high monthly service costs per device and the inability for the in-house IT departments to monitor and control the MNO network. As a result, internal IT organizations are left to deal with the uncertainty of Wi-Fi as the lessor of two evils. Florida-based ClearSky Technologies has provided mobile network infrastructure as a Service to over one hundred MNOs over the past two decades. This extensive experience has enabled the company to identify and solve key issues facing enterprises of all types and sizes that see the need for cellular service but are hindered by a lack of technical knowledge and skills required to address the complexities of making 4G/LTE and 5G cellular serve their needs.

Delivering the Missing Piece for Successful In-building Public Cellular Deployments

ClearSky has solved one of the most nagging and incessant problems enterprises face when trying to deploy in-building public cellular coverage – the inability to get an approved cellular radio from the MNOs for interoperability with their networks. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) are a tried and true
method to bring cellular service inside buildings. However, the DAS is, by definition, an antenna system and needs cellular radios to provide MNO connectivity. “While the MNOs have historically funded and supplied compatible cellular signal sources, this approach has radically changed in the last several years as MNOs are using their available budgets for outdoor 5G deployments, leaving little left to fund radios for indoor DAS deployments,” stated Dean Fresonke, EVP of Business Development at ClearSky.

ClearSky has developed an innovative service that allows building owners, managers and tenants to take control of their own destiny and purchase pre-approved AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile radios to enhance in-building coverage. The offering, Forte Neutral Source, consists of a complete package of radio equipment, deployment and monitoring services to power any DAS installation with any combination of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. By paying a small additional cost over the price of the DAS, ClearSky supplies the radio-asa-service and guarantees the timely deployment of robust, in building public cellular coverage.

ClearSky partners with leading DAS Systems Integrators (SIs) and Value-Added Resellers (VARs) that manage the DAS installation process. In many cases the SI or VAR will promote ClearSky to solve the missing radio problem on behalf of the property. In the case where an enterprise or building owner does not have an existing SI or VAR, ClearSky can provide a complete end to end cellular solution as a turnkey service.

Private Cellular is the New Standard for Fast and Secure Wireless Networking for Mission and Business Critical Applications

Wi-Fi technology has brought the power of wireless networking into every aspect of our personal and professional lives. With such widespread adoption, some Wi-Fi users are pushing the limits of the technology, requiring a paradigm shift to meet expanding needs for improved security, capacity, coverage and mobility. While advancements have been made with Wi-Fi, in many cases it is still failing to meet the demands of mission and business critical applications. Fortunately, the FCC recently released new Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) radio frequencies in the 3.5 to 3.7 GHz bands. This spectrum enables enterprises to deploy their own indoor and outdoor private 4G/LTE and 5G networks, opening the next chapter of enterprise networking.

To help organizations accelerate the deployment of private cellular services in the CBRS band, ClearSky has leveraged its years of experience providing mobile network Infrastructure as a Service to create an end-to-end managed service that covers all aspects of the design, deployment and operations of private cellular networks. Enterprises across a wide variety of industries are turning to ClearSky for both indoor and outdoor private networks, knowing they have ultimate control of their own private cellular network but can rely on ClearSky expertise to design, deploy and operate the network for them with full 24x7x365 support. ClearSky provides all the necessary network design, deployment, activation and monitoring services needed for private cellular, including all the back office infrastructure and device management services. The services cover all the intricacies that go into integrating private cellular into existing IT infrastructure. “We have leveraged our years of experience designing and operating cellular network technology to offer a wide range of services for businesses, enterprises, and organizations that want to benefit from the adoption of high quality private cellular networks for mission and business critical applications,” says Robert Cerbone, Senior VP, Products at ClearSky.

Addressing Critical Needs Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the healthcare industry is under intense pressure for communications improvements that can supplement face-to-face meetings and address increased demand, leading to the need to improve in-building public cellular coverage. The need is immediate, leaving no time to negotiate with MNOs for radio sources and wait out their multiyear budget cycles.

ClearSky has been working with a large medical R&D facility in a suburban location where cellular coverage was poor and cell phones often unusable. To facilitate research and development in one part of the building and high-volume manufacturing in the other, seamless in-building communications were critical to everyone involved. Through coordination with the DAS manufacturer, the SI, and the end customer, ClearSky acted as the single point of contact to source and deploy MNO-approved cellular radios, bringing cellular service online in months rather than the years it may have taken if the facility had relied solely
on the MNOs.

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