Liberty Global and CableLabs are to join the MulteFire Alliance consortium – an independent organisation that’s looking to develop next generation wireless technology.
“Wireless connectivity has become critically important for consumers,” said Balan Nair, CTO of Liberty Global. “By joining the MulteFire Alliance, we are driving the future of wireless for our customers.”
The MulteFire Alliance says its focus to ensure that next-generation LTE mobile standards are compatible with shared and unlicensed spectrum. This includes Wi-Fi – an important part of the cable operators armoury – though there is also now a greater focus on mobile services.
“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,” said Ralph Brown, CTO of CableLabs.
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 fairly 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, however, 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. This “standalone” functionality has been proposed in the 3GPP standards body for both LTE and 5G. By building this capability in the Alliance, its member companies will enable its adoption in global standards and the corresponding broad benefit of wireless innovation.
Other members of MulteFire include Qualcomm, Intel, Nokia and Ericsson.