Mediacom inks FWA RAN deal with Samsung

CBRS is key to “helping to close the digital divide” – Samsung

Samsung announced Friday that Mediacom Communications will deploy Samsung’s Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum wireless networking solutions for its 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service. The deal includes Samsung’s 4G and 5G-ready Radio Access Network (RAN) products. Samsung expects commercial deployments to begin this fall. 

Mediacom provides high-speed data, video, and phone service to approximately 1.5 million households and businesses across 22 states, and the company sees CBRS as a key accelerator for its rural broadband buildout plans. CBRS is the band of radio-frequency spectrum from 3.55 GHz to 3.7 GHz that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designated for sharing among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority licensees and General Authorized Access (GAA), which is unlicensed. Mediacom began testing CBRS applications in 2019, and spent $29.48 million for 576 licenses in the 2020 Priority Access License (PAL) spectrum auction. Mediacom said those licenses cover 178 counties, within its current cable service footprint. 

Samsung is not the only RAN vendor that Mediacom is working with. Last September, Mediacom tapped Ericsson for other CBRS-related RAN gear to help build out its network. Later that fall, Casa Systems indicated it was working with Mediacom to help get its Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and FWA systems up to speed for Mediacom’s FWA service, which it calls Bolt. Mediacom began rolling out Bolt in limited areas last fall. Mediacom offer Bolt plans to customers starting at $59.99 per month for 3 Mbps upload and 25 Mbps download, with a 400 GB monthly cap.

Samsung and Mediacom touted the news as an important step to address the needs of many rural and underserved communities throughout the United States that lack reliable and affordable high-speed Internet service. Mediacom CTO J.R. Walden said the Samsung deal will help his company more quickly and efficiently deliver broadband to more homes.

“We look forward to working together to deliver high-speed connectivity to those households that have historically not been reached before,” said Walden.

“Bringing together our powerful CBRS solutions with Mediacom’s large and growing footprint will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of Americans in rural communities, helping to close the digital divide,” said Imran Akbar, Samsung Electronics America Vice President, New Business, Networks Business.

Research from Dell’Oro Group earlier this year indicated that CBRS RAN deployments were growing slower than expected. Dell’Oro VP and analyst Stefan Pongratz blamed the slow growth on a gap between registered Spectrum Access System (SAS) access points (APs) and LTE and 5G NR base stations, but was careful to express long-term optimism about CBRS’s future.

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