Participants in a January Network Computingwebinar sponsored by the MulteFire Alliance, a membership organization, and disseminated by UBM, an event organizer, sorted out the competing aspects of enterprise networking using Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless communications. Derek Peterson, Ph.D., chief technology officer of Boingo Wireless, said it is important for wireless networks to take advantage of all available radio-frequency spectrum to support the coming 5G LTE wireless technology.
Peterson serves as a member of the board of directors of the MulteFire Alliance, an international association dedicated to promoting MulteFire, which is a form of LTE deployment in unlicensed frequency bands. Since 2006, Boingo Wireless has been deploying cellular and Wi-Fi networks in large venues, and Peterson said the company seeks economical ways to continue deployment in enterprises and smaller locations on behalf of wireless carriers, venues or systems integrators, as the case may be.
Where traditional LTE technology may be unprofitable for an individual wireless carrier to deploy, MulteFire LTE technology might allow enough costs to be shared that an installation could turn a profit. Source: MulteFire Alliance
Derek Peterson, Ph.D., chief technology officer of Boingo Wireless, and a member of the MulteFire Alliance board of directors. Photo by Don Bishop
“MulteFire allows you to deploy LTE in a simple way, enabling a neutral-host solution to serve many players that could become a part of the network for ubiquitous coverage,” Peterson said. He said the same parties, including wireless internet service providers and neutral-host providers (such as Boingo) that have deployed Wi-Fi in hotels and enterprises can release LTE capability to users who want the connectivity it provides.
MulteFire suits frequency bands with over-the-air contention for fair sharing with other LTE and Wi-Fi services, Peterson said. MulteFire has LTE’s quality of service (QoS) class identifier (CI — together, QCI) mechanism that ensures bearer traffic is allocated appropriate QoS. Peterson said MulteFire guarantees latency for specific applications. Whether MulteFire shares 5-GHz spectrum with Wi-Fi or 3.5-GHz spectrum with Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) devices and other LTE providers, Peterson said, the technology has built-in coexistence as a key component. Encryption, authentication and authorization support secure communications, he said, and MulteFire is suitable for near-band internet-of-things communications.
Because it can use various frequency bands, Peterson said the technology can deliver superior wireless communications range whether indoors or outdoors. He said many providers foresee 1-gigabit-per-second (1 Gbps) service with 1-millisecond latency connecting many devices in a dense environment. This points to the use of smaller cells, which MulteFire supports.
When it comes to deployment, Peterson said some venues want coverage even though the individual wireless carriers may find it too expensive to extend their networks into those venues. He said Boingo’s traditional deployments relied on using wireless carriers’ licensed spectrum and on funding from the carriers. Peterson said that in the future, Boingo looks forward to installing neutral-host systems that take advantage of common spectrum that reduces deployment cost while meeting the needs of the carriers and the venues — and maybe persuading the venues to share some of the cost.
“The way we’re going to deploy these networks in the future serves many opportunities,” Peterson said. “It serves traditional deployment that uses carrier spectrum and perhaps carrier aggregation for a wider channel for a better user experience for that specific carrier. In addition to that, we can serve more than one carrier because we’re using a neutral band, 5 GHz, 3.5 GHz or some other unlicensed or shared band. The single deployment can serve all of the operators, whether they are mobile network operators (MNOs), multisystem operators (MSOs), mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) or others that want to share the network and provide connectivity.” Peterson said MulteFire also can provide discrete channels for specific MNOs to use in delivering special services.
Alex Glaser, director of development at Harbor Research, also spoke at the webinar. He gave some details from the MulteFire Alliance-sponsored Harbor Research white paper, “MulteFire in the Enterprise: Driving Innovation and Value Creation.” A recording of the webinar and a copy of the white paper are available via hyperlinks on the MulteFire Alliance website, www.multefire.org.
This article originally ran in the September issue of AGL Magazine.