Boingo, Ruckus, SpiderCloud among new MulteFire Alliance members

More Wi-Fi companies are getting on board with the MulteFire Alliance, with Boingo Wireless and Ruckus Wireless among those joining the organization.

MulteFire is the LTE-based technology for small cells operating solely in unlicensed spectrum, initially targeting the 5 GHz bands. The MulteFire Alliance introduced itself late last year with original founders Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and members Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Intel. Other new members include SpiderCloud Wireless, Athonet, Baicells and Casa Systems.

The MulteFire Alliance technical specification group is developing the MulteFire specification based on 3GPP Release 13 and Release 14 advancements, including downlink and uplink in unlicensed spectrum. 

Boingo, which provides Wi-Fi in high density locations like airports, stadiums and military bases, understands that mobile-first consumers require powerful wireless solutions to keep pace with the demand for content and connection, Boingo Wireless CTO Derek Peterson said in a statement.

"Bridging digital and physical experiences requires harmonious integration of the most advanced unlicensed and licensed spectrum technologies to best serve consumer and enterprise needs," Peterson said. "MulteFire technology is an important step toward coexistence and convergence. We're excited to contribute to the MulteFire Alliance's work in defining interoperability, conformance and coexistence specifications that meet global unlicensed band regulations and ensure harmonious spectrum integration." 

Steve Martin, senior vice president/general manager, emerging technologies at Ruckus, said that as the future of wireless is beginning to unfold, traditional dividing lines in spectrum management -- both licensed and unlicensed -- and the technologies associated with them are rapidly disappearing.

"People ultimately want fast, reliable and cost effective communications," Martin said. "MulteFire brings the capabilities and benefits of LTE to the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum as a comprehensive service. This can provide network operators with access technology flexibility, whether Wi-Fi or MulteFire, to meet their specific deployment needs."

SpiderCloud recently announced that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) will conduct a trial of its LTE-U system in the third quarter of 2016. SpiderCloud's LTE-U Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) delivers LTE capacity over licensed and unlicensed spectrum in high-density venues such as multi-tenant business offices, shopping malls, hospitals, university campuses and concert halls. SpiderCloud says its centralized co-existence manager self-organizing network (SON) software enables its system to coexist with hundreds of ad-hoc Wi-Fi access points.  

The MulteFire Alliance plans to provide interoperability, conformance and coexistence specifications and to enable conformance testing to ensure a robust and interoperable ecosystem. It also promises to take great care to ensure that MulteFire technology will harmoniously coexist with other technologies in unlicensed spectrum bands.

Coexistence with other technologies in unlicensed spectrum bands is getting a lot of attention nowadays as operators with LTE licenses want to introduce a version of LTE into the unlicensed bands. The Wi-Fi Alliance held its second major workshop Feb. 10 to further collaborate and design a test plan that satisfies both the companies behind Wi-Fi and those that are behind the introduction of LTE in unlicensed spectrum where Wi-Fi resides.

The MulteFire Alliance plans to host a launch event open to all Mobile World Congress 2016 attendees from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 23.

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