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CBRS Small Cell Radios

Instead of a LoRa antenna, Helium 5G Hotspots use Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) Radios to provide cellular coverage. CBRS is a wide broadcast 3.5Ghz band in the United States that does not require a 5G Hotspot Host to acquire spectrum licenses.

More information about CBRS can be found on the Federal Communications Commission Website

5G Hotspots can participate in providing 5G cellular coverage when connected to Indoor or Outdoor CBRS Small Cell Radios while also participating in providing LoRaWAN coverage.

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Only certified CBRS Radios provisioned with the FreedomFi firmware will operate when connected to a 5G Hotspot.

CBRS Radios that are not certified and do not use the FreedomFi firmware will not provide 5G coverage and will not mine MOBILE.

The Helium Discord is the best place to get real-time support from the community. The #5g-cbrs channel is most relevant for using 5G on the Network.

Outdoor Small Cell Radios

Outdoor Small Cell Radios are more powerful than Indoor Small Cell Radios and are weatherized to endure the elements. Outdoor Small Cell Radios create a larger area of 5G coverage while requiring a bit more planning when installing and maintaining.

Outdoor Small Cell Radios require installation above ground level and require registration with the Spectrum Access System (SAS) to operate. Please be sure to evaluate your site location and ability to install these Small Cell Radios, and consider hiring a professional to ensure your installation is secure and meets all regulatory requirements.

SAS registration is expected to be completed within 5 days of submission. Hotspot Owners will be contacted via email with a confirmation of successful registration, or with a rejection reply and an explanation of what needs to be corrected.

Indoor Small Cell Radios

Indoor Small Cell Radios are less powerful and are ideal for installations such as coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, etc. Indoor Small Cell Radios are generally easier to install and create a smaller, localized area of 5G coverage.

Indoor Small Cell Radios are physically smaller radios and can be installed at any height. Installing an Indoor Small Cell Radio outdoors is not recommended as they are not weather resistant.

Using Multiple Small Cell Radios

A single 5G Hotspot can support multiple Small Cell Radios but requires an additional network switch. A soft limit to consider is 7 Small Cell Radios to one 5G Hotspot, however, this limit is only theoretical as the true limiting factor is bandwidth saturation. All 5G Hotspots are built with a 1 Gbps Network Interface Card (NIC), the throughput of all the radios combined is limited to 1 Gbps or your internet speed, whichever is lower.

Troubleshooting

Confirm the Network is Working

Visit the FreedomFi Status page.

This status page will provide the latest updates on important issues that impact users like Device Onboarding, SAS services, or other major events.

Spectrum Access on the 5G Hotspot Dashboard

The Spectrum Access status will be in one of four states. It is not uncommon to see this status change frequently.

The Small Cell Radio has been granted Spectrum Access by the SAS and is providing 5G coverage.

The Spectrum Access was recently None and is coming back online, this status should be transitory.

The Spectrum Access is disabled to the Small Cell Radio.

See below for more information.

The Spectrum Access Grant to the Small Cell Radio has Failed.

See below for more information.

Spectrum Access None Status

A Dynamic Protection Area (DPA) is a geographic region where incumbents (Tier 1 users) get protection from PAL and GAA interference.

During a DPA Activation event, all Small Cell Radios in the given DPA Neighborhood are disabled by the SAS. There is nothing that you need or can do in these scenarios. The SAS will automatically re-grant Spectrum Access once the DPA Activation event has concluded.

A message similar to the following may also be present:

Spectrum Access status went back to “Connected” after it had been working. Wait and don’t reboot. Suspension can last from hours to days for DPA Events. Contact support if you have been suspended for more than 48hrs. This is more prevalent if your location is within 150km of the DPA Regions.

Spectrum Access FAILURE Status

This status is alarming, but do not let it scare you.

For newly installed Small Cell Radios, this "Failure" status is likely because the registration process has not been completed and submitted to the SAS.

You may see an information pop-up similar to this:

SAS status code: 200 SAS response message: Response data: installationParam

For any other warning messages, contact FreedomFi Support directly.

DPA Neighborhood Regions

DPA regions can be viewed on the map below. Remember, these coordinates are not exact, and the effected regions for each DPA Activation event can reach as far as 150km inland.

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Further information and maps of the DPA Neighborhoods in the United States and territories can be found here: CBRS Encumbrances Overview

This link and the included information are for reference only and may not address all current DPA Neighborhoods.

Small Cell Radios Need GPS

All compatible CBRS Small Cell Radios use GPS for network timing data and to assert the Small Cell Radio's location when requesting approval to transmit from the FCC-regulated Spectrum Access System (SAS).

Small Cell Radios will need to be placed somewhere that allows the GPS antenna to be in a location with good GPS reception (i.e. near a window). Indoor Small Cell Radios are shipped with an external GPS antenna which can be positioned independently while Outdoor Small Cell Radios have the GPS antenna integrated into the body directly.