MulteFire Alliance released version 1.0 of its specification, according to the consortium’s press release, is based on Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) releases 13 and 14.
Release 1.0 enables LTE to operate in unlicensed, shared spectrum. Essentially, as I wrote last week, there are two kinds of spectrum: licensed and unlicensed. The capacity and cost advantages of unlicensed spectrum have led powerful cellular companies and their ecosystems to try to solve the sticky issues that were a barrier to their use of the bandwidth. MulteFire is one such effort.
Unlicensed spectrum is as available to mobile cellular companies as it is to anyone else. The challenge is that their technology was developed in a landscape in which an individual cellular company plunked down a lot of money and got exclusive rights to a portion of bandwidth. For this reason, technology enabling cellular systems to share spectrum – a huge requirement in the fractious world of unlicensed spectrum – was not needed and never developed.
That is not wholly a technical question. There is a lot of money in unlicensed spectrum. The politics of how cellular access is written into networks using unlicensed spectrum is tricky and controversial. The issue is even more of a wildcard as a new administration – and one with a very different philosophical orientation – takes the reins.
- There are two kinds of spectrum: licensed and unlicensed.
- The question now is the fairest system way to give cellular carriers that capability.
- The full specification will initially be available to consortium members, with outsiders gaining access mid-year.
“The spec implements “Listen-Before-Talk for fair coexistence with technologies using the same spectrum such as Wi-Fi and LAA, as well as co-existence between different MulteFire networks.””