Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

13 September 2022

Rebranded MulteFire Alliance expands resources for private networks

By Wireless Watch Staff

In June 2021, the MulteFire Alliance (MFA) was reborn to focus on 5G private network blueprints. This came after its core technology – which enabled LTE to run in unlicensed spectrum without an anchor network in a licensed band – failed to make much impact on the market.

It received a certain boost from the USA’s CBRS spectrum, which features a general access option that could only run a 4G network on the MulteFire lines, until 5G-Unlicensed standards were finalized and implemented. But the specs are now finished and from next year, we should see whether the non-anchored variant of 5G-U has a greater impact on the market than MulteFire did for 4G.

It is highly likely that it will, given the rise in interest around the world in private cellular networks, and in various spectrum options that allow them to be deployed, where appropriate, without MNO involvement. That may give the MFA a new lease of life, and last year it rebranded itself to just the three-letter acronym, to reduce the association with MulteFire itself.

It will continue to support and certify that technology but has taken on an expanded remit that covers 5G and enterprise licensed spectrum, not just shared or unlicensed airwaves. It also announced its Uni5G Technology Blueprints, which aim to help enterprises select and implement the features from the 3GPP 5G standards that are relevant to their specific needs.

The first blueprint, for 5G-U in Release 16, is now available and a Release 17 blueprint will soon follow. MFA is also offering a unique global PLMN (public land mobile network) ID number to industry verticals. MFA was awarded this global PLMN ID number by the International Telecommunications Union in 2021. It will enable enterprises to deploy their 5G private networks in locally licensed spectrum or deploy a MulteFire network in unlicensed spectrum.

Further new tools and resources are also planned to help smooth the path to private network deployment by industries, and MFA is even taking on a headline sponsorship of Hannover Messe USA, the US version of Germany’s huge industrial fair, which takes place in Chicago this week. Among its new or updated offerings are an interactive map of spectrum options for private LTE and 5G networks, and a tracker tool to monitor the spread of such networks, run by research firm Mobile Experts.

Mobile Experts estimates that over 2,800 private LTE and 5G networks have been deployed to date and forecasts that the market for private cellular equipment will grow by between 12% and 15% this year, to reach about $1.9bn globally.

Mazen Chmaytelli, president of MFA, commented in a statement: “The connectivity requirements of enterprises are becoming more complex, with thousands of devices on a network conducting business-critical applications. MFA is a leading industry resource for enterprises looking to understand the benefits and opportunities of 3GPP-based private networks for their business. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for enterprises to deploy their own private network in any spectrum, and we are providing the tools and resources to help them… achieve their digitalization goals.”