More data to more places wherever that may be, means utilising all areas of the spectrum
It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. In just a year, the MulteFire Alliance, which was formed at the end of 2015, has devised and published its technical specification (MulteFire1.0) and made it available for public download from its website last month.
“Frankly, getting an end-to-end spec of a new air link in one year is a feat on its own,” says MulteFire Alliance president Mazen Chmaytelli who adds: “It was done with a great deal of dedication as almost everyone in the Alliance are volunteers.”
The MulteFire Alliance is an independent member-driven consortium that defines and promotes the application of LTE-based technology for small cells operating in unlicensed and shared spectrum. Originally founded by Nokia and Qualcomm membership now stands just shy of 30 companies and includes the likes of Ericsson, Intel, Athonet, Boingo, CableLabs, Charter, Comcast, Cisco, Huawei, Sierra Wireless, SoftBank and Sony.
Thanks to a growing demand for data to more devices in more places, there is a need for all spectrum types to be leveraged.
MulteFire’s promise is to widen the LTE ecosystem to new markets and new entities without using licensed spectrum.
The core benefits of this LTE-like technology are enhanced coverage, full mobility for better user experiences, built-in security and industrial reliability. Since MulteFire is based as closely as it can be on LTE, it has seamless connectivity built-in, so users can move in and out of a private MulteFire network with ease.
And in comparison with other cellular alternatives, what MulteFire does, is to provide capacity enhancements, so you can have fewer nodes to serve more devices, important for smart city applications.
According to Chmaytelli, the beauty of this MulteFire technology is that it marries the benefits of LTE with the ease of Wi-Fi like deployment.
Chmaytelli believes the characteristics of MulteFire – high reliability, safety, mass connection, high mobility and ubiquitous coverage – make it highly suitable for smart cities applications including metering and monitoring. MulteFire can also complement other connected technologies acting in the space between Wi-Fi and wireless operators’ networks.
Since taking over presidency of the Alliance, Chmaytelli says the verticals that are being mentioned with MultiFire connectivity in mind are airports, mining, metro light rail, oil and gas applications, education, hospitals, government and parks.
At MWC last year, Paul Copping, smart city advisor at Digital Greenwich and Peter Marx ex-CTO for the City of Los Angeles, both praised MulteFire for being able to deliver much needed scaleability in a smart city scenario.
By the end of this year, Chmaytelli expects MulteFire lab trials to start, with vendors getting used to the specs. The Alliance is currently working on interop and certification with the specification testing framework due to be ready by the end of this year. This leaves the way for the first quarter of 2018 for field trials to begin.
Chmaytelli says that the next upgrade to MulteFire 1.0 will be targeted at the industrial internet of things (IIoT) such as smart factories, mines, ports and airports. MulteFire is expected to come into its own where real-time surveillance is required particularly such as in the tricky environment of a shipping port. The thermal monitoring of drones and other radar equipment is another perfect application for this technology.
Along with real time surveillance and security, worker safety monitoring, remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance are perfect for MulteFire connectivity. These types of activity are not only important in the running of a smart city but they actually lower the operation burden. As a city gets smarter, you need to keep monitoring your services to make sure you have the right technology in place.
Says Chmaytelli: “There are different smart use cases that are addressed by different technologies but having another option out there such as MulteFire which differentiates itself is important because all of a sudden you start looking at other applications that enhance the smartness of a city.”
Download the MulteFire Technical White Paper here.
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