Mobile operator partners with City of Tucson to enable smart city applications

Mobile operator partners with City of Tucson to enable smart city applications


Network is also being used to address digital divides in Tucson, especially related to learning

Network is also being used to address digital divides in Tucson, especially related to learning

The City of Tucson is rolling out a Citizens Broadband Radio Network (CBRS) network across the city.

 

The municipal network will enable remote learning and multiple smart city applications in the first phase and new use cases and applications in follow-on phases. The city’s private network is one of the largest municipal cellular deployments rolled out so far in the US.

 

Network infrastructure

 

Geoverse is the managed service partner for the network whose GeoCore Evolved Packet Core (EPC) forms the critical control element to manage the CBRS network infrastructure from JMA Wireless, the Spectrum Access Service (SAS) from Google, and the many user devices.

 

Mobile devices and end points will be populated with a Geoverse SIM card, enabling them to securely connect to the private network and utilise capabilities such as roaming if they travel off-net.

 

With the increasing requirement for remote learning, multiple school districts across Tucson faced an all too familiar problem: many households did not have the resources to connect their school-age children. With limited resources and budgets, these school districts approached the City’s IT department to see how it could help address this digital divide.

“The resulting CBRS infrastructure footprint and related deployment resources required were significantly much more manageable and therefore more cost-effective”

Collin Boyce, the City of Tucson’s CIO, embraced the challenge and developed a strategic plan that started with a school and city-county partnership. Local municipal assets like city fibre and building rooftops and towers, combined with federal grant money, resulted in a viable plan to solve the student connectivity issue near-term, while also creating a network that could benefit the community elsewhere long-term.

 

A wi-fi approach was considered, but the required equipment, installation resources, and related costs to connect the 31 neighbourhoods, five school districts, and almost 100,000 students proved problematic.

 

Instead, the City evaluated LTE and CBRS, identified key advantages they offer, such as signal reach, performance, proven security, and seamless mobility, and ultimately that became the foundation for the municipal solution.

 

“The resulting CBRS infrastructure footprint and related deployment resources required were significantly much more manageable and therefore more cost-effective, which was significant in understanding the tight schedule and limited resources we were managing against,” said Boyce.

 

The municipal network offers high-performance wireless connectivity with download speeds of 50 Mbps. In addition, the GeoCore Service platform allows for network slicing across the cellular network, resulting in multiple virtual networks that can each be dedicated to specific functions to help better manage city infrastructure domains.

“This is a major deployment both in terms of its coverage area and in its support of use cases, underscoring again the value of what these highly capable networks can now do”

Smart city use cases include connecting the city’s network of traffic lights, monitoring and managing its critical water systems, serving city parks and recreational spaces with public wi-fi, and connecting first responders. It will also be the platform to offer its city staff low-cost, high-performance internet service.

“This is a major deployment both in terms of its coverage area and in its support of use cases, underscoring again the value of what these highly capable networks can now do,” added Rod Nelson, CEO, Geoverse.

 

“We’re pleased to partner with the City of Tucson on such a critical effort to keep [its] communities connected and [its] schools open. This is a model other cities are closely watching.”

 

Geoverse, a subsidiary of ATN International, is a licensed mobile operator that provides turnkey connectivity solutions for enterprises, property owners, and communities. The company’s private 5G/LTE cellular network offering – based on citizens band radio network (CBRS) and licensed spectrum – interconnects with major mobile operators.

 

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