The MulteFire Alliance, developing a platform for Long Term Evolution 4G services entirely based on unlicensed spectrum, or in a shared spectrum environment, announced the completion of its Release 1.0 specification. That could be a crucial capability for some new mobile providers who base their access strategy substantially on use of Wi-Fi or other unlicensed spectrum. 

The new spec is likely to have immediate application for any spectrum band that requires over-the-air contention for fair sharing, such as the global 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum band or shared spectrum in the upcoming 3.5 GHz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band in the United States.

Release 1.0, based on 3GPP Releases 13 and 14, covers LTE operation in unlicensed and shared spectrum, while ensuring fair sharing of spectrum with other users and technologies such as Wi-Fi.

By removing the requirement for an anchor in licensed spectrum, MulteFire enables new use cases, especially for entities seeking to use unlicensed spectrum.  

The MulteFire Release 1.0 specification builds on elements of 3GPP Release 13 License Assisted Access (LAA) for the downlink and Release 14 enhanced LAA (eLAA) for the uplink, and specifically ncludes enhancements for operation solely in unlicensed spectrum.

Release 1.0 implements listen-before-talk protocols intended to maintain fair coexistence with technologies using the same spectrum such as Wi-Fi and LAA, as well as co-existence between different MulteFire networks.

The release also defines a neutral host access mode where the same facilities can serve multiple operators, as well as a traditional access mode for a single network operator.

The spec also enables access authentication with or without a SIM card to provide services for subscribers from different types of service providers, including mobile operators.

The standard also supports a range of LTE services, including Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and high speed mobile broadband.

A new white paper provides a detailed technical description of MulteFire technology and is available at http://www.multefire.org/white-papers/.