By Outi Niemi, MulteFire Alliance Secretary and Head of Planning & Operations, Innovation Steering, Nokia
The MulteFire Alliance members have just returned from a week-long sojourn to the Nokia facilities in Nozay, France where we hosted the Technical Specification Group (TSG) and a MulteFire Open Day. It was a critical week for the Alliance as we made progress toward the publication of Release 1.0 and educated companies about how MulteFire technology will enable new opportunities.
TSG Preps for Release 1.0
Member companies from around the world converged in France to participate in the TSG meetings as the Alliance moves closer to the delivery of our first specification and began exploring functionality of the next release. We’re on track for Release 1.0 to publish in Q4 this year and will be kicking off our certification program. This week included the first discussions around how the certification program will take shape to ensure interoperability of devices and interworking of networks in 2017
Member Companies Take the Stage
In conjunction with the TSG meetings, we hosted our second MulteFire Open Day. The Open Day is designed to educate potential member companies about MulteFire and included presentations that provide an overview of the benefits of MulteFire and a deeper look at the technical details behind MulteFire’s end-to-end architecture and radio link.
The highlight of the Open Day was our member company panel, moderated by the MulteFire Alliance President, Mazen Chmaytelli, that featured Nanda Menon, Director of Corporate Development for Athonet, Derek Peterson, CTO for Boingo Wireless, Rao Yallapragada, Director at Intel, and Mike Carper, Head of New Business Incubation, Advanced Mobile Network Solutions with Nokia. There were a few key themes that emerged from this interactive discussion with the audience.
The opportunities are endless. The panel opened with a discussion around how MulteFire access points deliver neutral host capabilities that open opportunities for new and existing wireless providers. From an enterprise perspective, Menon from Athonet explained how MulteFire not only offloads traffic from the network, but also delivers secure, private networks that provide IT staff with control. Yallapragada from Intel highlighted the performance, mobility and plug-n-play capabilities that MulteFire brings. A discussion around new verticals such as utilities and automotive followed, but perhaps the biggest opportunity may be emerging economies where many parts of the world don’t have fixed line connectivity.
Monetization and creativity go hand in hand. Much of the discussion – including from audience participants – revolved around the way existing and new wireless providers may be able to monetize MulteFire deployments. Peterson with Boingo Wireless shared how the first order of business is to get subscribers on the network, and then service providers can get creative in how they monetize that network. One way could be by offering new services that leverage MulteFire or by developing roaming agreements with other providers.
A rich technology ecosystem is needed. Attendees asked about how the Alliance will enable a robust device ecosystem. Carper from Nokia pointed out that it’s more than just enabling devices – those devices also need a network with which to communicate. It will be up to device manufacturers and infrastructure vendors to work together to build out a complete technology ecosystem. The MulteFire Alliance kicked off its certification program discussion this week to address this issue.
Connectivity expectations are evolving. One attendee pointed out that there are perceived expectations that “Wi-Fi is free, while mobile data is expensive.” Peterson pointed out that as connectivity solutions evolve, it won’t matter what network subscribers are connected to. Today’s mobile plans are changing as service providers move business models away from “cost per bit” and subscribers care about getting the wireless connectivity they desire rather than the network.
The event concluded with MulteFire technology demos from Athonet, Nokia and Qualcomm.
The Alliance will be participating in the upcoming BroadBand World Forum, October 18-20 in London. I encourage anyone with an interest in exploring a new way to wireless to schedule time with us at the conference, or to contact the Alliance at https://www.mfa-tech.org/become-a-member/ to learn more about joining.
Outi Niemi leads the organization planning and business operations for the Innovation Steering function in Nokia. She is a transformation and change enthusiast with an MSc. in Industrial Engineering and years of experience in product & service businesses, portfolio management, capability development, marketing, partner management, project management, strategy development and business control.
Outi enjoys networking across cultural and organizational boundaries, which is one reason why she jumped at the opportunity to help bring the MulteFire Alliance together. The other reason lies in her conviction that MulteFire is a brilliant way to enter new markets with LTE technology and ensure connectivity for all.