Innovation and Opportunity: MulteFire Business Opportunities Event at MWC17

By Mazen Chmaytelli, MulteFire Alliance President

At the recent Mobile World Congress, the MulteFire Alliance hosted attendees at our MulteFire Business Opportunities Event. While last year’s MWC event introduced the Alliance to the industry and provided an education on MulteFire technology, this year we shared how MulteFire leads to “Innovation and Opportunity” – with a focus on enterprise, industrial IoT and service provider segments.

With the completion of our Release 1.0 technical specification, the industry now has the tools to build an end-to-end MulteFire network. While the specification is currently just available to member companies, I announced during the event that we will make it publicly available on April 3 to everyone.

So what are the business benefits to deploying a MulteFire network? Following a presentation on the Business Case for MulteFire by Stephan Litjens, Alliance Board Chair and VP Innovation Steering at Nokia, we invited Harbor Research and potential MulteFire end users and vendors to provide their viewpoints.

Alex Glaser with Harbor Research shared findings from the firm’s research into the market opportunity for private LTE/MulteFire networks for Industrial IoT. Based on its market segmentation, Harbor Research found that private IoT with LTE and MulteFire could reach $31B by 2022! That’s a big opportunity over the next five years.

After Stephan and Alex set the stage, we then turned to end users to get their thoughts on how MulteFire will impact their business. Our first panel included leaders from enterprise and IoT, including Athonet, Digital Greenwich, Enel, GE Digital and Globalgig.

When asked why MulteFire is attractive in comparison to other wireless connectivity options, Globalgig’s CEO Ernest Cunningham commented that the ability to deploy a neutral host network in unlicensed spectrum globally was a huge asset for the multinational company.

Mario Bocchiola with Enel commented that as a manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas across multiple geos around the world, “MulteFire’s capability to utilize unlicensed spectrum is certainly a key draw in the Industry 4.0 direction” – a sentiment that the other panelists agreed with wholeheartedly.

Addressing why smart cities would find MulteFire an attractive option, Paul Copping with Digital Greenwich commented that MulteFire delivers much needed scalability. Peter Marx with GE Digital was in agreement. Marx, previously the chief technology officer for the City of Los Angeles, shared his view that “cities are the big daddy, just from their sheer scale and massive size of infrastructure. Cities stand to greatly benefit from the latest advances in cellular technology.”

We then invited representatives from the cable operator, service provider and vendor community to take the stage to discuss their thoughts around MulteFire’s role. Panelists included Boingo Wireless, CableLabs, Qualcomm, SpiderCloud Wireless and Talk Talk Group.

Martin Wren-Hilton, Director of Mobile Innovation for Talk Talk Group kicked the discussion off by stating that from his perspective, MulteFire’s deployment models are the most exciting thing about the technology, with flexibility on the back-end being really good.

From the cable operator perspective, Belal Hamzeh, vice president of wireless R&D for CableLabs, shared how MulteFire plays well with cable. To deploy a MulteFire network, you need a location, power and backhaul – and the cable industry already has these pieces in place. They can leverage what they currently have without needing to acquire new real estate or invest in power and fiber.

Derek Peterson, CTO with Boingo summed up the MulteFire opportunity as a toolkit. “We used to just have a hammer and DAS was the nail, so we’d just hammer, hammer, hammer. Now we have a whole toolkit that we can choose from and pick the best solution to take advantage of the spectrum.”

MulteFire allows anyone to create, install and operate their own private or neutral host network while also creating new revenue streams via innovative business models. The discussion and comments from our panelists validated that MulteFire will play a vital role in various market segments. I look forward to seeing the ecosystem deliver on the promise of MulteFire as we look to lab trials and commercial deployments in the near future.