MulteFire delivers the reliability and security of LTE without licensed spectrum and addresses key internet of things use cases
The internet of things (IoT) is seen as a key driver of digital transformation in a wide range of enterprise and industrial segments, but IoT success depends on secure, reliable connectivity. LTE is the clear choice given those parameters, but delivering LTE is largely dependent on access to licensed spectrum, which is primarily the domain of governments and deep-pocketed service providers. Enter MulteFire, an emerging technology that can deliver LTE in unlicensed spectrum, and differs from LAA by removing the need for an anchor tenant in licensed spectrum.
Earlier this year the MulteFire Alliance delivered a 1.0 specification, and is working now on a 1.1 spec that speaks more directly to IoT applications. MulteFire Alliance President Mazen Chmaytelli and Alex Glaser, director of development at Harbor Research, explored this opportunity in a recent webinar, which provides a deep dive into the technology and key applications. That informative session, titled “Delivering MulteFire Connectivity for Industrial IoT” is available here.
Chmaytelli emphasized the broad goal of MulteFire as “getting the best of both worlds”–the best parts of LTE with “Wi-Fi-like simplicity. If you think of it, MulteFire will allow anyone to deploy their own private network,” he said. “MulteFire provides key characteristics such as better radio coverage, enhanced capacity, seamless mobility, increased robustness and enhanced security. There are key performance advantages, but also there is flexibility depending on the depth of your deployment from a private network perspective.”
On the in-development 1.1 specficiation, Chmaytelli said, “We’ll actually have two means of supporting IoT capabilities. First, we’ll be supporting enhanced machine communication, eMTC, and that will be supported specifically for the CBRS band as well as other global or regional bands. And second, NB-IoT for low power wide area, LPWA, support and use cases. That will be targeted for the 2.4 GHz global band as well as other regional bands.”
Glaser, explaining Harbor Research’s methodology, narrowed his focus to device types and use cases requiring high network reliability and bandwidth, low latency, a high node count, the potential for added value and a strong outlook for market adoption. He cited use cases including worker safety monitoring, operations visibility and optimization, remote diagnostics, predictive maintenance, asset management and authentication and access control.
“Private LTE or private IoT networks can really provide that reliability and throughput that we haven’t really seen from other wireless networks in the past. Think about an airport. A plane lands. Instead of having to dispatch a technician to run out to the plane and get the diagnostics data, with this private, secure network, I could actually do an offload of that data while it’s pulling into the gate so that I could run diagnostics and have repairs going on during the un-boarding and re-boarding of the plane. What we believe is MulteFire, with the private IoT/LTE approach, will allow for that reliability and security that we have not seen with other networks.”