Nokia and ExteNet Systems today announced their agreement to deliver a CBRS network for Cal.net, Inc., a wireless internet service provider based in Northern California, with internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps downlink and 20 Mbps uplink for Cal.net customers in rural and underserved regions.
Cal.net, a recipient of the Connect America Fund (CAF II), contracted with network partner ExteNet Systems for the CBRS network, featuring Nokia Radio Access Network (RAN) and microwave backhaul technology and ExteNet’s IP core.
Cal.net is investing in a major internet backbone upgrade in response to CAF II to bring high-speed broadband services to underserved rural homes and small businesses, and to address immediate traffic demands due to COVID-19.
The new network is one of the first commercial deployments of CBRS technology in the U.S. with a path to 5G.
For the network buildout, Nokia is the primary supplier of equipment deployed in the Cal.net network, including microwave radios, IP routers, and the AirScale RAN solution. ExteNet Systems, a leading communications infrastructure provider, is responsible for the design, build, and operations of Cal.net’s CBRS network while also providing a hosted IP core service.
The new network buildout is underway with most of the work planned for completion in the first four years of the agreement. By leveraging Nokia’s microwave backhaul to connect cell sites, combined with fixed wireless to reach end-users and high-performance IP service routers, Cal.net can overcome the challenges of bringing high-speed broadband to regions where fiber rollout isn’t an option.
The Cal.net network will also be one of the first deployments of CBRS technology in the U.S. The new network will utilize the shared 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum band, previously available only to the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense. CBRS enables multiple entities to use the shared spectrum band at the same time and opens up a new spectrum that wireless internet service providers such as Cal.net can access to bring high-speed internet and 5G to its rural communities.
Tim Mahoney, National Director of Sales – U.S. Regionals, Nokia, said: “Nokia believes in bringing connectivity to everyone, whether they live in large urban cities, or in counties such as those in Northern California where Cal.net is staking its claim as the leading service provider in the region with this new network design and build. During this critical time where people are operating under ‘stay at home’ protocols, it’s more important than ever that we solve internet traffic overload issues due to COVID-19 and ensure we keep people connected with their communities. This Cal.net buildout is strategically planned over the next 10 years with the majority of work completed upfront. As such, we are committed to our long-term partnership with Cal.net and ExteNet Systems to put the enormous benefits of access to high-speed internet for education, commerce, healthcare, and more into the hands of the people.”
Jason Osborne, VP of Strategic Solutions, ExteNet Systems, said: “The combination of Nokia equipment with our Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering proved to be the right fit for Cal.net. We have worked with Cal.net for many years and selected Nokia RAN and microwave radio as an integrated offering with our distributed evolved packet core (EPC) solution for the CBRS network build. Cal.net benefits from our carrier-class network assurance, including 24/7 monitoring and maintenance. Nokia is our trusted partner and we look forward to working closely together on this important network buildout for Cal.net.”
Nick Sekulich, Director of Operations, Cal.net, said: “In the rural regions that we serve, we needed a wireless solution that can deliver the same performance as fiber, and we needed a trusted partner in wireless infrastructure to help bring our vision of a highly reliable wireless network to life. We chose to build our new network exclusively with Nokia equipment given the company’s decades-long reputation for quality in telecom and our mutual commitment to bridging the digital divide for underserved communities.”