Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies demonstrated MulteFire - an emerging, LTE-based technology solely for unlicensed spectrum - at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
The live demonstration - using the commercial Ericsson Radio Dot System running in the 3.5 GHz band and Qualcomm Technologies' pre-commercial devices in combination with the Ericsson Virtual Evolved Packet Core - showcases benefits and key use cases for operators, building owners and systems integrators seeking to collaboratively address coverage issues. MulteFire combines the performance benefits of LTE with the deployment simplicity of Wi-Fi.
Existing LTE in unlicensed spectrum solutions such as LTE-U and License Assisted Access (LAA) require an anchor channel in licensed spectrum. Since MulteFire does not require this anchor, it can function as a neutral host, serving multiple entities' indoor small cell deployments or providing dedicated broadband services to enterprises.
Ericsson said its scalable Virtual Evolved Packet Core solution enables multiple business models for neutral host operations. In addition, the MulteFire solution can be integrated with an operator's existing core network, supporting full mobility between MulteFire and traditional 3GPP radio access networks (2G, 3G and 4G).
The end result is enhanced coverage, increased capacity, full mobility for better user experiences and inherent LTE security in local area deployments, according to Ericsson.
The use cases for emerging, unlicensed spectrum technologies enable new business models within the traditional framework of network providers, operators and customers. In the case of indoor coverage, for example, we spend 90% of our lives inside and yet only 40% of subscribers say they are satisfied with their indoor connectivity experience. (Ericsson ConsumerLab report, July 2015)
Addressing this need is a challenge because network operators have no practical means of proactively identifying buildings in need of improved indoor connectivity on a large scale. Similarly, operators may have limited access to building owners and IT departments.
The partnerships and deployments enabled by MulteFire deployment will close this gap to ensure operators - in conjunction with building owners, systems integrators and enterprises - can build indoor coverage on a massive scale, Ericsson argues.
Ericsson's managed services offering, Small Cell as a Service, can further support operators, enterprises and neutral hosts in their planning, deployment and ongoing operation of these indoor systems.
The company said it believes innovative business models, achieved through strategic partnerships and unlicensed spectrum technologies, will drive the industry forward and help realize the full potential of global networks.