The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has been granted authorization by the Federal Communications Commission to test the use of a private cellular network relying on 900 MHz spectrum held by Anterix.
LCRA operates six dams and produces hydroelectric power, providing wholesale electricity to 34 retail utilities in Texas that serve more than 1 million people in 55 counties. It provides regional management of the Colorado River in terms of water supply for more than 1 million people as well as recreational spaces, managing more than 30 parks, recreation areas and natural resources areas. It has an operating company that also owns and services 5,200 miles of transmission lines and nearly 400 power substations.
The agency wants to test private LTE network for its utility operations, aiming to explore the use of mission-critical push-to-talk, data and video.
In its description of the testing filed with the FCC, LCRA outlined plans to deploy a total of 13 test sites, with several in Austin, Texas, as well as additional sites in San Marcos, Brookesmith, Paint Rock and Wharton, Texas.
It will be using equipment from a variety of vendors, including Nokia and Ericsson, and devices from companies including Sonim, Cisco and Samsung; the Band 8 900 MHz equipment, LCRA noted, is already certified and in use globally even though it needs “experimental” designation to operate in the United States due to existing spectrum allocations.
LCRA wants to test operations in the band using a proposed 3×3 MHz allocation and part of its work will include assessment of whether the operations cause interference in adjacent bands, as well as whether that provides the necessary capacity and latency for the push-to-talk, video and data.
LCRA was granted a twelve-month special temporary authority (STA) that will expire in February 2025.