Nokia and STC partner to test MulteFire unlicensed LTE

Kit vendor Nokia has teamed up with Saudi telco STC to test MulteFire unlicensed LTE technology and demonstrate it can play nice with wifi.

MulteFire is a take on the concept of LTE over unlicensed spectrum that is somehow different from LTE-U, but it’s not entirely clear how. One way is that it was launched by Qualcomm last summer and by the end of the year had evolved into an alliance, with Nokia as the other founding member and Ericsson and Intel offering moral support.

The test in Saudi Arabia was designed to show how MulteFire can co-exist with wifi to deliver LTE in a densely populated environment. MulteFire claims to complement HetNets, allowing operators to meet the increased connectivity demands of future smart cities and IoT in general. Among the specific tests were operator agnostic access, wifi co-existence and a coverage test that showed a range improvement of up to 50% compared to vanilla wifi.

“We are the first operator in the world to have successfully conducted the test of MulteFire technology with Nokia,” said Nasser Al-Nasser, SVP of Technology and Operations at STC. “This test underpins our commitment to explore and identify the latest technologies that can further boost the overall service experience for our subscribers even as demand continues to grow. MulteFire will allow us to deliver LTE performance with a simplified deployment.”

“As one of the founding members of the MulteFire Alliance, Nokia is driving the development of a global technical specification, and this test is a crucial step toward commercialization of the technology,” said Nokia’s Waseem Al-Marzogi. “By collaborating with operators like STC, we can develop new ways of utilizing spectrum such as 5GHz to meet the network demands of today and tomorrow.”

This test comes just days after Qualcomm received permission from the FCC to test LTE-U in partnership with TMUS. It’s also the second major announcement from Nokia in the Middle East this month, having landed a network expansion deal with Ooredoo Qatar previously. And STC has also been busy, having launched a new ‘disruptive’ brand last week too.

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