The MulteFire Alliance – a member driven consortium pushing to advance unlicensed spectrum – announced the addition of four new members, including Samsung Electronics America and American Tower.

The two companies are joined by Chinese enterprise player H3C and InterDigital Communications, giving the alliance 33 members in total.

Existing members include SoftBank, Cisco, Qualcomm, Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson.

MulteFire is an LTE-based technology operating in unlicensed or shared spectrum, which the alliance said: “delivers key advantages in terms of capacity, coverage, mobility and reliability”.

It was developed by Qualcomm and Nokia, with later backing by Ericsson and Intel.

The technology can be deployed as a traditional access mode by a single network operator, which the alliance added can be advantageous for enterprise networks “seeking a robust, secure and cost-effective solution”.

MulteFire technology differs from both LTE-U and LAA, which both require an anchor channel in licensed spectrum. MulteFire is expected to operate solely in unlicensed spectrum without an LTE anchor, which the alliance states make the technology more suitable for neutral host services and for private networks.

It would likely be either deployed by private users directly (such as venue owners or enterprises) or by service providers including Wi-Fi or LTE operators in cases where licensed spectrum is unavailable.

Industrial IoT
In a statement announcing the new members, Mazen Chmaytelli, president of MulteFire Alliance and senior director of business development at Qualcomm, said the addition of the companies would boost the industry’s efforts to bring the technology to market “in the near future”.

He also said the alliance was looking at enabling “new deployments such as private networks for industrial IoT”.

“The MulteFire Alliance encourages innovation that eliminates the requirement for licensed spectrum,” he said.

Chmaytelli wrote a blog post earlier this week outlining how MulteFire could help with the advancement of industrial IoT in the future, describing it as the “ideal network solution for industries concerned with the scope and scale of their sensor based, IoT devices”.

“As large enterprises evaluate options for their IoT deployments, it’s important to keep mobility and security in mind,” he wrote, adding: “Private LTE networks such as MulteFire fulfils both these needs, while operating solely in unlicensed or shared spectrum.”