PureWave Networks yesterday announced that it will conduct trials of its small-cell LTE technology in the Silicon Valley operating on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum that will be used to support the nationwide broadband network for first responders being built by FirstNet.

PureWave Networks plans to demonstrate small-cell performance in several scenarios, according to Ronen Vengosh, PureWave’s vice president of marketing and business development.

“We are building a trial network in Silicon Valley, and we’re going to be testing primarily advanced use concepts for small cells,” Vengosh said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “When you look at a public-safety network, obviously you need to have the overlaying macro-layer capacity layer that will provide basic connectivity and capacity for first responders. But we feel that small cells have a unique value to add.”

One of the key use cases for small cells that will be demonstrated is as deployable infrastructure that can be established where LTE coverage does not exist or is unavailable for some reason, Vengosh said.

“First responders can take a small cell with them—with all the network components—and essentially set up a communications network with broadband capabilities within minutes,” he said. “That’s one critical piece of this.”

Other key use cases that will be examined during the trial will be the ability for small cells to provide LTE coverage to communities in a rural areas, and the ability to enable sharing of the network , which many believe will be crucial for FirstNet to meet operational and financial goals, Vengosh said.

“One of the issues that has been discussed extensively has been the issue of potentially sharing the network, whether on a multi-tenancy basis or on a priority basis,” Vengosh said. “This is one of the things we have developed in the core technology that we have here, and we’ll be demonstrating, trialing and characterizing a bunch of these different features, including multi-tenancy, multi-operators core network [MOCN] virtualized.”

During this trial period, PureWave will be operating on the Band 14 spectrum under special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC through the end of the year, Vengosh said. PureWave is working in cooperation with the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Authority (BayRICS)—an entity that is expected to oversee the deployment of one of the first public-safety LTE networks in the U.S.—during the trial period.

“Small cells offer capabilities that will be very useful for public safety wireless networks, and there is much that we can learn about their use and applications from this trial,” BayRICS General Manager Barry Fraser said in a prepared statement. “We are eager to propose specific test scenarios and will monitor the results closely for useful information as we work with FirstNet to develop our regional broadband network.”

Ultimately, the LTE network serving BayRICS will become part of the nationwide system being built by FirstNet, which will be the ultimate target of the lessons learned during the PureWave trial, Vengosh said.

“The goal is to characterize the performance, so we can take this to FirstNet and say, for instance, ‘OK, in a rural-site small cell deployment, this is what you can expect in terms of performance. Here is where it works well, and here is where it doesn’t work well,’” Vengosh said.