Outdoor Radio Setup and CPI Approval Process

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What is the CPI Approval Process?

In order for CBRS radios to be allowed to operate, they need to be registered with the Spectrum Access System (SAS). For SAS approval to be granted for outdoor radios, a Certified Professional Installer (CPI) must record parameters of the radio's installation which must adhere to certain guidelines and provide that information to the SAS for approval. Rather than needing to pay for a certification to become a CPI and submit this yourself, FreedomFi has CPIs on hand to do the legwork for you. All you need to do is install the radio(s) and provide proof of installation parameters via photos and measurements. FreedomFi CPIs will then verify the information, sign off on it (or request more information or proof from you), and submit to the SAS on your behalf.

NOTE: Your outdoor radio(s) will not be online and functional until the CPI approval process has been completed and your submission was accepted by the SAS. If you have not performed the CPI approval process or you are still waiting for the final approval message and your radio is offline, there is no need to troubleshoot as this is expected behavior.

If the setup procedure is too complicated or you don't have a suitable outdoor location to install an outdoor radio, indoor radios are generally a good choice. They are easy to set up and do not require this CPI approval process to be followed - they simply require a GPS lock to be SAS enabled!

Find Your Location and Plan for Equipment

The first step to any good deployment is to find a suitable location and plan out the coverage you would like to provide. This will allow you to plan ahead for the equipment needed in terms of gateways (like the Bobber 500) and radios as well as networking equipment and mounting hardware.

Helium 5G deployments are intended to complement existing carrier coverage, not replace it. Ideal places for deployments are spots where cellular coverage is lacking such as rural areas, indoor areas like shopping malls, stadiums, businesses, and more. The idea place would be somewhere with poor existing cellular coverage where many people will spend extended periods of time using their mobile devices, such as coffee shops and restaurants.

NOTE: Outdoor CBRS radios must be installed outdoors only, and Indoor CBRS radios installed indoors only. This is an imposed requirement by CBRS regulations and not due to waterproofing, enclosures, or anything else. If you install an outdoor radio indoors, your CPI approval will be denied!

Perform Initial Equipment Testing

Before going through the process of installing the radio(s), it is recommended to perform an initial mock-up setup of your devices to verify they are functional. You will need the gateway unit (Bobber 500) connected to the internet and powered on, as well as your outdoor radio powered on and connected to the eNB port of the gateway or a network switch if connecting multiple radios. The outdoor radio will need to be near a window in order to get a GPS lock or it may not display properly in the dashboard (most outdoor radios have internal GPS antennas).

Once everything is connected and powered on, using a device on the same local network as your gateway open a web browser and go to bobber-gateway.local to bring up the Miner Dashboard. Go to the Radio Dashboard tab and verify your radio(s) are showing connected to the gateway. If your radio is not reading connected to the gateway, troubleshoot power and connections and resolve the issue before proceeding to install your radio(s).

NOTE: It is normal for Spectrum Access and On Air to show OFF or other errors, this is because the radio is not yet SAS registered.

Set Up Network Connectivity and Power

Once you've verified all equipment is functional, proceed with installing the required networking cable and power connections and networking switch if one is being used. NOTE: Outdoor rated Ethernet cable is required for outdoor radio installations in order to ensure they are properly weatherproofed. Cat5e or better cable is required for proper radio backhaul speeds.

Most outdoor radios run only on Power Over Ethernet (PoE) which can be supplied via the manufacturer's PoE injector or by using a PoE switch. NOTE: Different radios have different power requirements - some will operate with PoE+ while others require PoE++ standard. Consult the documentation or manufacturer of your radio hardware for guidelines. When installing multiple radios, ensure your PoE solution can provide adequate power for all radios.

Mount Your Equipment

Install your radio(s) in their final mounting place securely and make final adjustments to the direction the radio faces and its angle, as these will need to be recorded for the CPI approval.

NOTE: There is no longer a requirement to install outdoor CBRS radios at a minimum height of 20 feet. This requirement was previously lifted, however they will still need to be installed outdoors.


Link to the original message in the Helium Official Discord

Take note of the required information and pictures needed for the remaining steps to avoid having to climb back up to the radio if it is mounted high up. Some steps will require measurements and pictures taken from on top of the radio.

NOTE: Measurements and pictures will need to be submitted for each specific radio if installing more than one radio. Be sure to note which radio serial number corresponds to which actual radio and set of pictures to avoid any delays in the CPI approval process. 

Record the Radio Height

You will be required to submit the height of the outdoor radio installation and a photo to verify it. Here are some ideas on how to get the height:

  • Ask a contractor or building manager about the height of your building
  • Get the height of the home/building by looking at it in Google Earth Pro.
  • Use a tape measure and measure the height directly from the radio

Take a photo that shows both the radio and the ground. Height.png

Record the Azimuth Angle

Azimuth is another name for the compass direction in which the center of the antenna is pointing (a 360-degree circle around the antenna). NOAA has a free website that uses any phone accelerometer + compass to find azimuth which can be accessed here. Steps to collect this photo:

  • Navigate to the NOAA website to get a compass up: NOAA Mobile Magnetic Declination Calculator
  • Choose the “Compass” option in the lower-left corner
  • Place the phone on top of the radio, so the TOP of the phone (the part that goes to your ear on a phone call) is pointing in the same direction as the antenna.
  • Take a picture of the compass direction


Record the Elevation Angle

The elevation angle is another name for “tilted up or down from level.” The reference point is the middle of the antenna. You can use a free app on your phone to find this value:

  • iOS: use the built-in “Measure” app, choose the “level” function at the bottom
  • Android: use the free “Clinometer” app from the Play store

Steps to collect this photo:

  • Open one of the two apps named above
  • Place the phone on top of the small cell. All certified outdoor cells all have a flat portion of the top surface that is perpendicular to the front of the antenna and will hold a phone.
  • Take a picture of the elevation angle


Complete the Registration Process

Each individual outdoor radio will need the CPI approval registration process completed. To begin, using a device on the same local network as your gateway open a web browser and go to bobber-gateway.local to bring up the Miner Dashboard. Go to the Radio Dashboard tab and select the particular radio you want to register. Click the yellow "Register Radio" button at the bottom of the Radio Dashboard. Follow the wizard to fill out the form and add photos, then submit the information. If you have more radios to register, you can now navigate back to the Radio Dashboard and select the next radio and perform the steps again.

After submitting the radio registration, you should get an initial email confirmation. You should then be notified by email of the status of your registration, typically within 3 business days. If more information or picture evidence is needed, you will be notified via email.

NOTE: Once the approval process is complete and you receive your final CPI approval email it can take up to 24 hours for the SAS to fully register your radio and allow spectrum access.

Visit the bobber-gateway.local Radio Dashboard once more to verify your radio is showing all services as UP/Green.

Congratulations! Your outdoor radio CPI approval process is now complete!

Troubleshooting CPI Approvals

NOTE: Once the approval process is complete and you receive your final CPI approval email it can take up to 24 hours for the SAS to fully register your radio and allow spectrum access. You may have to wait this additional day after receiving final confirmation before your radio will come online.

If your CPI approval is still pending after 3 business days, first check your email inbox and spam folder for any emails from FreedomFi requesting additional information or pictures.

If there has been no request for information, refer to the 5G miner specific section of our article on staying up to date with problems and changes with Helium and check for any ongoing network issues.

If there are no ongoing network issues, power cycle your outdoor radio(s) and then reboot your Bobber 500 gateway via the "Reboot" button at the bottom of the Miner Dashboard. Allow 10 minutes for all equipment to start back up and reconnect to services, then check the Radio Dashboard status again.

If you are still having issues with your CPI approval process or it has been more than 3 business days and you need an update, please reach out to FreedomFi Support and submit a ticket here. FreedomFi handles CPI approvals and as such, Bobcat can only assist with gateway issues and not CPI processes.

Monitor Your Radio Setup Using the Bobber App

Once your radio(s) are online, you can use the Bobber App's Web Dashboard feature to monitor your gateway and its attached radios, even if it's not a Bobcat brand gateway! To add the gateway to the dashboard, follow these steps. The dashboard will display the following information:

  • Miner Name
  • Last 5G Small Cell Heartbeat
  • Number of Attached Radios
  • Last Daily MOBILE Payout
  • Last Speed Test Time
  • Last Speed Test Download Rating
  • Last Speed Test Upload Rating
  • Last Speed Test Latency Rating
  • Hotspot Maker
  • Individual Radio Status, Including Last Heartbeat and Last Daily MOBILE Payout


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