MWC 2104 Preview: Wireless Broadband Alliance defines Carrier Wi-Fi

Comprehensive definition of carrier Wi-Fi aims to drive a closer alignment of Wi-Fi experience and cellular experience for end users and enable closer network integration between the two

MWC 2104 Preview: Wireless Broadband Alliance defines Carrier Wi-Fi

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, has unveiled a comprehensive definition of Carrier Wi-Fi, to help drive closer alignment with its cellular counterparts.

Carrier Wi-Fi is seen by operators as an important step to improving the Wi-Fi user experience, as it is increasingly used for cellular offload and delivering new services.

The WBA has identified the requirements that a Carrier Wi-Fi network needs to provide a consistent user experience, have fully integrated end-to-end network capabilities and offer advanced network management.

Carrier Wi-Fi is currently an industry buzzword. However, the term has lacked a universally recognised meaning among operators, vendors and industry bodies alike.

A new set of guidelines, led and published by the WBA, aims to provide that common vision to the entire industry on what constitutes Carrier Wi-Fi, drilling down to the details of the functional requirements of the network, analysing what is available today and discussing what work still needs to be completed.

The WBA brought together nearly 20 of the world’s largest operators and vendors to participate in defining the Carrier Wi-Fi vision. They include: Accuris Networks, AT&T, BSG Wireless, BSkyB, BT, CableLabs, China Mobile, Cisco, Comcast, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel Corporation, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless, SK Telecom, Time Warner Cable and Towerstream.

The WBA has also started initial consultations with numerous industry bodies including the 3GPP, Broadband Forum, GSMA, NGMN and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, said: “To improve and enhance the user experience and deliver the desired services and a superior user experience has always been at the forefront in terms of the WBA’s priorities. By defining Carrier Wi-Fi, the industry can now work together to put the building blocks in place to deliver advanced Wi-Fi networks. This work will help ensure that consumers connecting to a carrier Wi-Fi network will be exposed to the best user experience possible, regardless of time or location.”

“Achieving a common vision for the future of Carrier Wi-Fi and what needs to be put in place to make it a reality is imperative, and we are delighted to be involved in such an important initiative,” said Philippe Lucas, Orange Senior Vice President Standardisation & Ecosystems Development, who led this initiative together with Ruckus Wireless.

“These guidelines encompass input from across the Wi-Fi ecosystem and we are confident that we have addressed the key issues and laid the groundwork for the deployment of these networks. This will secure Wi-Fi’s reputation as one of the most convenient and accessible connectivity options for the end user.”  

The WBA Guidelines concluded that the following standardized Carrier Wi-Fi capabilities are needed to ensure networks can reliably scale to meet the requirements of the industry:

  • Consistent user experience
  • Network discovery and access
  • Authentication and security
  • Service experience
  • Fully integrated end-to-end network
  • Network architecture
  • End-to-end service provisioning
  • Network management
  • Network quality
  • Network security
  • Network manageability

The WBA will also send the paper to other industry bodies for their feedback and liaise how to progress Carrier Wi-Fi development and the potential work that still needs to be carried out. Updated versions that incorporate the progress made by the industry bodies are expected to be published in the future. To view the current whitepaper, please visit - http://www.wballiance.com/resource-center/white-papers/

The WBA will host a Carrier Wi-Fi Summit taking place in Hall 8.0 on the 24-27th February during Mobile World Congress 2014. The dedicated four-day summit will bring together over 500 key influencers from across the wireless ecosystem to discuss the future of Carrier Wi-Fi.

To find out more about how to get involved in the Carrier Wi-Fi Summit or to register as a participant, please visit - http://www.wballiance.com/carrier-wi-fi-summit

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