WiFi Roaming Gets a Boost

(22 Jun 2010, BWCS Staff)

The Wireless Broadband Alliance has received a major boost this week with a series of heavyweight operators and manufacturers deciding to nail their colours to its mast. The first two newcomers to leap aboard yesterday were AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two largest mobile outfits in the US. Later that day, the WBA announced that South Korean mobile operator KT, cable operator Comcast, Cisco Systems and mobile software company Devicescape have all recently joined too.

The WBA was set up to boost Wireless roaming by getting the major operators and vendors to talk to each other and agree on common standards. So far it has helped provide a method of sharing login credentials among WiFi network operators to enable subscribers to log onto another WBA member's network.

With the rapid growth of mobile data services and the move to push as much as possible of it onto WiFi networks, the work of the WBA is becoming more important and more pressing for major mobile operators. AT&T and Verizon both have large WiFi networks and it is increasingly becoming important to offer seamless roaming onto other WiFi networks as their customers use their smart phones on other systems.

WBA has also released its WISPr 2.0 specification. This enables WiFi network operators to effectively eliminate the need for log-ins, yet still allow other users to roam onto their network. The new specification also allows for roaming from a 3G or LTE network on to WiFi.

It is important to note, however, that the operators are not going to eliminate roaming charges from their packages. The WBA will be conducting trials of WISPr 2.0 for about six months, and it is unlikely to be implemented commercially for at least one year. According to the WBA its other members include BT, Deutsche Telekom, NTT, Boingo Wireless and Tata Communications Internet Services.


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