The city of McAllen, Texas is deploying a shared spectrum CBRS wireless network with technology from private network pioneer Federated Wireless and Cambium Networks (NASDAQ: CMBM), a leading global provider of wireless networking solutions. The network gives the entire community of McAllen, Texas — including more than 23,000 K-12 students in the independent school district — access to internet connectivity.
“Our main challenge was in our low-income neighborhoods where they really never had even cable TV, much less broadband and Wi-Fi,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “That made it impossible for kids to go to school remotely, or for parents to get training or work from home. They were going to fast food restaurants or city parks for connectivity, and that’s no solution. This network gives us a permanent solution for all of our neighborhoods. Every child, parent and senior citizen who needs connectivity now has it. When you look at McAllen, we’re now not only a ‘Connected City,’ we’re a digital leader.”
McAllen is part of Hidalgo County, which borders Mexico in the southern tip of the state. The city of approximately 140,000 people has been especially hard-hit by COVID-19, with more than 3,500 people, or 2.5% of the population, having been infected. This compares to a national average of 1.6%.
McAllen’s schools, which have received a state “A” rating, a post-secondary readiness distinction and a perfect score in the financial integrity rating system, resumed classes on August 24 with plans to conduct remote learning for at least eight weeks. While each child in the district has received a wireless device for the last nine years, in-home connectivity has been inadequate. More than 25% of McAllen residents live below the poverty line and city-provided wireless access was limited to only 14 highly-distributed hot spots that covered a small fraction of the population.
“The deployment of a reliable, high performance network is going to transform our community, allowing our students to connect to their classes virtually and enabling our workforce to elevate its knowledge and capabilities as we move through the global pandemic,” said Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, Ed.D., superintendent of McAllen Independent School District. “Approximately 70% of our students are economically disadvantaged and this is going to give all of them, regardless of their backgrounds, circumstances or the challenges they face at home, an opportunity to access the rich educational resources we are delivering to the community.”
Drew Lentz, co-founder of Frontera Consulting, was awarded a grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide a CBRS network that blankets the city with high-speed wireless access. The solution includes 24 Cambium PMP 450m base stations and more than 1,000 cnPilot e700 outdoor Wi-Fi access points mounted on utility poles, with spectrum controller services provided at no cost by Federated Wireless.
“The deployment of this network delivers on one of the core capabilities of CBRS, which is to extend wireless connectivity to rural areas that traditionally have not had a level playing field with the rest of the country,” said Matt Mangriotis, director of product management at Cambium Networks. “We are pleased to be working with Frontera and Federated Wireless to demonstrate how our CBRS WAN and outdoor Wi-Fi LAN wireless networks with cnMaestro cloud management play a key role in its development and look forward to seeing how it propels the community forward.”
“CBRS is changing the face of the wireless industry forever, providing much-needed high-speed connectivity in education, manufacturing, entertainment and other industries,” said Federated Wireless co-founder, president and CEO Iyad Tarazi. “The McAllen deployment serves as a shining example of the power and flexibility of shared spectrum services and creates a clear path for others to follow.”
About Cambium Networks
Cambium Networks empowers millions of people globally with wireless connectivity. Its products are used by commercial and government network operators as well as broadband service providers to connect people, places and things. With a single network architecture spanning fixed wireless and Wi-Fi, centrally managed via the cloud, Cambium enables operators to achieve maximum performance with minimal spectrum and low overhead. Cambium empowers a growing ecosystem of partners who design and deliver multi-gigabit wireless solutions that just work.
About Federated Wireless
Founded in 2012, Federated Wireless has long led the industry in development of shared spectrum CBRS capabilities. The company’s partner ecosystem includes more than 40 device manufacturers and edge partners, all of which are dedicated to collaboration to advance development and proliferation of CBRS services. Federated Wireless’ customer base includes companies spanning the telecommunications, energy, hospitality, education, retail, office space, municipal and residential verticals, with use cases ranging from network densification and mobile offload to Private 4G/5G and Industrial IoT. For more information, visit: www.federatedwireless.com.