Today Qualcomm announced the first MulteFire over-the-air connection using listen-before-talk, which is an important milestone for the industry’s effort to broaden the LTE ecosystem. When a new air-interfaces comes to life we see a progression that roughly follows these steps: concept, simulations, lab results, over-the-air tests, finalized specification, user trials and then finally, commercial deployments. With respect to a finalized specification, the MulteFire Alliance plans to deliver Release 1.0, which will be tightly aligned with the 3GPP standards, later this year. Combining this Over-The-Air (OTA) announcement with the upcoming availability of the Release 1.0 specification means that we can soon look forward to MulteFire user trials.
Video 1: First MulteFire over-the-air connection using LBT
MulteFire is a new LTE-based technology but with one big difference — it is deployed in unlicensed spectrum and does not require any licensed spectrum. This means that more entities can deploy MulteFire. In essence it combines the best of both worlds; the high performance we’ve come to expect from LTE with the ease of deployment we associate with Wi-Fi. MulteFire is suitable for any spectrum that needs over-the-air contention for fair sharing, such as the global 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum and the new 3.5 GHz shared spectrum in the U.S., called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). MulteFire uses the same standardized sharing methodology, also known as Listen-Before-Talk (LBT), as LTE licensed assisted access (LAA) and Wi-Fi, which ensures that they can happily co-exist in the same spectrum as can be seen in these OTA tests. Actually, in previous LAA trials we have demonstrated that neighboring Wi-Fi users on the same channel will experience improved performance compared to having Wi-Fi as a neighbor and we are working to soon show the same in this OTA testbed.
By not requiring any licensed spectrum, MulteFire is able to bring the benefits of LTE to a larger ecosystem with new kinds of deployment scenarios. MulteFire delivers increased capacity, improved coverage and seamless mobility that can benefit any entity in need of a high performing local broadband. These MulteFire deployments can also be configured to support what we call neutral hosts, where a single MulteFire deployment serves subscribers from multiple service providers with added data capacity and improved indoor coverage in high-demand places such as a sports stadium. Another example where MulteFire can be used in an innovative manner is as a dedicated LTE network for Industrial IoT. As the video title below says, MulteFire is a new way to wireless…
Video 2: MulteFire – a new way to wireless
As you can tell, we are excited to bring you a new technology that expands LTE to address more use cases, but we are even more excited about leveraging spectrum sharing technologies in the design of the next generation air-interface called 5G New Radio (5G NR). This is not limited to MulteFire scenarios, but also includes concepts from LAA, which aggregates different types of spectrum with a licensed spectrum anchor, and from CBRS and Licensed Shared Access (LSA), which provides tiered sharing of the spectrum with incumbents. By designing 5G NR from the beginning to support these concepts, combined with new spectrum sharing innovations, 5G NR will support all spectrum types more efficiently to provide consumers with the best possible user experiences. To learn more about MulteFire please visit our web page www.qualcomm.com/multefire.