Liberty Global and CableLabs join MulteFire Alliance

James Pearce
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Alliance is aims to ensure future wireless standards are compatible with unlicensed or shared spectrum

Liberty Global and cable R&D CableLabs have signed up to the MulteFire Alliance, an independent, international consortium aimed at delivering the next generation of wireless technology.

The Alliance’s spoken aim is to ensure the next generation of LTE mobile standards are compatible with shared and unlicensed spectrum. It wants to make sure new wireless advancements can coexist alongside Wi-Fi and other technologies.

It counts among its sponsor members the likes of Ericsson, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm, whilst firms ranging from SoftBank to Cisco have also signed up.

“Operators in the cable industry are ideal partners in our effort to develop new wireless technology and we are pleased to have CableLabs and Liberty Global join us,” said Mazen Chmaytelli, MulteFire Alliance president. “The Alliance is open for broad, global participation, and since one of our goals is to drive our work into global standards, we are establishing liaisons with 3GPP, CBRS Alliance and IEEE to keep them apprised of our progress.”

The MulteFire Alliance is currently working on adapting 3GPP-based mobile wireless standards for shared and unlicensed spectrum, based on 3GPP Release 13 License Assisted Access LTE (LAA) and Release 14 enhanced LAA. This uses Listen-Before-Talk etiquette to share spectrum in a similar manner to Wi-Fi.

LAA is normally anchored to licensed spectrum, the Alliance explained, meaning it must be used in conjunction with a mobile network. MulteFire will operate entirely in the unlicensed or shared spectrum space, so operators without access to spectrum can use it. This functionality has been proposed in the 3GPP standards body for both LTE and 5G.

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.”

“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.