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Industry giants Samsung and American Tower were among the latest group of companies to join the MulteFire Alliance, joining the likes of founding members Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia, and Intel. H3C and InterDigital Communications also became Alliance members.

“At Samsung, we believe that enterprises can provide employees and customers with telco-grade mobile connectivity within their facility through the use of private LTE networks built with MulteFire," Samsung Electronics America’s VP and GM for Wireless Enterprise Imran Akbar commented. “We are committed to contributing to industry ecosystems that are small cell-centric as an important part of our strategy, and we look forward to collaborating with Alliance members as we bring MulteFire to the global market.”

Formed in late 2015, the MulteFire Alliance aims to accelerate the development and promotion of MulteFire, an LTE-based technology for small cells operating solely in unlicensed spectrum. According to the Alliance, MulteFire is designed to coexist with wireless technologies and boost spectrum management, while opening new LTE opportunities for both new and existing providers.

The MulteFire Alliance unveiled its Release 1.0 specification for the technology in January. Built on 3GPP’s Release 13 Licensed Assisted Access requirements for the downlink and Release 14’s enhanced LAA for the uplink, the spec for the first time defined LTE to operate in only unlicensed and shared spectrum in the 5 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands. Additional bands are expected to be added down the line as regulatory bodies across the globe free up more shared spectrum suitable for MulteFire.

In a June report, ABI Research noted MulteFire and CBRS shared spectrum both promise “very low network buildout costs with economics that threaten to disrupt the DAS market.” These technologies, ABI said, appeal to “many Communications Service Providers, or CSPs, especially as CBRS pioneers a significant change in spectrum management for the industry.”

The market for hardware related to unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies is expected to hit $1.7 billion as deployments ramp up over the next five years, the firm indicated.

Samsung has been heavily involved in the development and deployment of small cell technologies for densification, and thus has a rather obvious stake in the game.

But American Tower recently noted non-wireless operators have expressed interest in the company’s tower portfolio. CEO Jim Taiclet said American Tower’s involvement in the CBRS Alliance could serve as a “catalyst to bring other types of tenants into the business for us,” and it could be looking to the MulteFire Alliance to bring even more players into its business mix.

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