The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, announced yesterday (12 June 2013) that it has completed its inaugural ‘Wi-Fi Roamfest’ at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in London this week with over 145 organizations participating.
The event provided an environment where operators and service providers could connect and reach agreements for Wi-Fi Roaming and related services. Interest in the area has recently been fuelled by the WBA’s Interoperability Compliance Program (ICP), an initiative launched in 2012 that streamlines the way members work together on a common set of technical and commercial frameworks for Wi-Fi roaming.
Wi-Fi roaming is a key theme for the Wi-Fi Global Congress and the purpose of the ‘Wi-Fi Roamfest’ was to fast-track roaming agreements by allowing multiple operators from around the world to negotiate and sign bilateral agreements.
In addition to the ‘Wi-Fi Roamfest’ the main conference programme included case studies, presentations and panel discussions, all focused on validating how important this technology is going to be for operators and service providers going forward.
Leading up to the event, operators have been extremely receptive to the ICP and several of the world’s largest carriers have participated in and completed an initial set of network assessments.
These gauge the quality of various network characteristics including: authentication, network discovery and selection, network access security, data clearing/settlement, customer support, information exchange and charging models, to ultimately deduce the readiness of their own network for Wi-Fi roaming. To date, the following eight global operators have achieved compliancy level:
- Boingo Wireless
- NTT DOCOMO
- Shaw Communications
- Portugal Telecom (TMN)
- True Corporation
As a result of the ICP, the WBA has been able to create a set of compliance guidelines for members, offering different support levels to operators. These range from simple integration requirements for roaming partners, to delivering support for the latest in session security, to more complex charging models and billing mechanisms required for the implementation of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH).
The WBA is also continuing its advanced trials of NGH technology which will give users easier access to a far greater number of public Wi-Fi access points around the world. The WBA expects public NGH deployments to continue throughout 2013.
Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, said: ‘Since its inception, bridging the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular has been a core focus for the WBA. The incredible progress that has been made in Wi-Fi roaming by the ICP has been central to achieving this goal.
‘This programme builds on the foundations of WRIX, a comprehensive set of specifications which the WBA started to develop in 2007, that make it easier to implement roaming between operators. ICP along with our recent ‘Wi-Fi Roamfest’ continues the impetus in the industry, encouraging operators to work together and make improvements to their own networks in order to ultimately deliver a more consistent roaming experience,’ said Shenwai
Earlier this week, the WBA also announced the new addition of 10 new members to its Alliance bringing the WBA membership total to 100. The new members include: CableLabs, MediaTek, Mosaik Solutions, NEC BIGLOBE, Qualcomm, Sharedband, Smith Micro, Spice Digital, Telkom Indonesia and Telecom New Zealand.