Future LTE networks could set up shop in your office

Big names like Intel and Ericsson will help to push a form of LTE that enterprises could buy

Your next enterprise wireless network might use LTE if Qualcomm and some powerful partners succeed in pushing cellular beyond just mobile operators.

This week, Intel, Ericsson and Nokia joined Qualcomm in forming the MulteFire Alliance, an industry group to develop and promote LTE that runs only on the kind of unlicensed frequencies that companies use for Wi-Fi.

LTE networks in enterprises may be a long time in coming. Where a vast industry has grown up to meet companies' indoor wireless requirements, small cellular base stations are relatively new and have been designed primarily for service providers. But in cases where businesses specifically need cellular coverage or local networks need to be something more than private LANs, unlicensed LTE might have a strong role to play.

Today's LTE networks use licensed spectrum that's exclusive to one operator, typically a mobile carrier. Because licensed spectrum is so hard to get and usually expensive, Qualcomm and other companies are coming up with ways to use LTE on unlicensed frequencies like the 5GHz band used by Wi-Fi. While most of the action on unlicensed LTE so far has been around systems for carriers to use in conjunction with licensed networks, Qualcomm is also promoting it for use without any licensed network.

MulteFire, based on Qualcomm technology, would let small and large businesses roll out small LTE cells around their sites. LTE uses spectrum more efficiently than Wi-Fi does and can take advantage of a universe of features built for LTE, such as for handoffs between cells, backers say.

MulteFire might be even more exciting for venues like stadiums and arenas, where the owner or a service provider could deploy a special network for fast data service. A so-called "neutral host" network like this could be made available to subscribers on multiple carriers without having to get into those carriers' licensed frequencies or coordinate with their nearby cells. Users with phones equipped for MulteFire could come into the venue and automatically start using the network.

But for now, MulteFire faces the same challenge as unlicensed LTE for regular mobile networks: Opposition from manufacturers and consumer groups that say LTE isn't ready to use the same channels as Wi-Fi without cutting into Wi-Fi performance. Players from both sides are now trying to work out how the two kinds of networks can coexist.

The MulteFire Alliance will help develop a global technical specification, set up product certification and come up with use cases for the technology, all while ensuring MulteFire doesn't interfere with Wi-Fi. One step in that direction is including a "listen before talk" feature that regulators are demanding in unlicensed LTE in places including Europe and Japan.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?