Signifying that quickening convergence of cable and the wireless industry, operator Liberty Global and industry research consortium CableLabs announced today that they have both joined the MulteFire Alliance.
“Wireless connectivity has become critically important for consumers,” said Balan Nair, CTO of Liberty Global, in a statement. “By joining the MulteFire Alliance, we are driving the future of wireless for our customers.”
“This step will arm the cable industry with a new wireless technology that builds on our success in providing Wi-Fi and mobile services and complements the industry’s fixed broadband technology leadership,” added Ralph Brown, CTO of CableLabs.
The MulteFire Alliance was formed last year with founding members Nokia and Qualcomm, along with members Ericsson and Intel, describing itself as an independent organization dedicated to developing and promoting MulteFire. This is an LTE-based technology for small cells operating solely in unlicensed spectrum, such as the global 5 GHz unlicensed band.
Other new members include SpiderCloud Wireless, Athonet, Baicells and Casa Systems.
Because MulteFire relies solely upon on unlicensed spectrum, it is designed in part to bring newcomers into the LTE ecosystem, including internet service providers, cable companies, enterprises and venue owners.
Bringing in a cable constituency is key to the alliance's agenda.
"The [MulteFire] Alliance is now canvassing for additional members. It is expected the body will try to sign up as many device, infrastructure and telco service providers as possible," ABI Research analyst Jake Saunders told FierceWireless in June. "If they are able to sign up cable operators and Google, who have been staunch supporters of the Wi-Fi Alliance, that would be a significant indication that the MulteFire Alliance is making progress.”
Currently, the MulteFire Alliance is working to adapt 3GPP-based mobile wireless standards for shared and unlicensed spectrum so that the technology is broadly available and coexists with Wi-Fi and other technologies. MulteFire is based on 3GPP Release 13 License Assisted Access LTE (LAA) and Release 14 enhanced LAA (eLAA), which uses Listen-Before-Talk (LBT) etiquette to share spectrum in a manner similar to Wi-Fi.
Unlike LAA, which is anchored to licensed spectrum and must be used in conjunction with a mobile network, MulteFire will operate entirely in unlicensed or shared spectrum, so that operators without licensed mobile spectrum can utilize it.
- read this press release
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