LONDON, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The GSMA and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) today announced they are working together to simplify connectivity to Wi-Fi hotspots from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The joint initiative is developing technical and commercial frameworks for Wi-Fi roaming, which will bring together the benefits of mobile technology and Wi-Fi networks for the first time, creating a far simpler consumer experience.
"The proliferation of smartphones and tablets around the world, as well as consumers' huge appetite for data means innovative solutions need to be explored to make using the Internet as convenient and as accessible as possible," said Dan Warren, Senior Director of Technology at the GSMA. "Through combining the proven capabilities of Mobile Broadband and Wi-Fi technologies, users will have the freedom to move between networks with ease."
Wi-Fi is increasingly emerging as a feature on smartphones and tablets, but today there is no consistency in the way these devices attach to Wi-Fi networks. This process includes device configuration, the use of access keys and the various mechanisms for acquiring and paying for connectivity. Wi-Fi roaming will allow mobile devices to seamlessly connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot using the SIM card for authentication, as well as enable mobile operators to uniquely and securely identify users whether they are on a mobile or Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi roaming will be based on the WBA's 'Next Generation Hotspot' programme and the Wi-Fi Alliance's 'Passpoint certification' technology. It will also build on the GSMA's successful roaming principles that have propelled the mobile industry to more than six billion mobile connections worldwide, a number that is expected to more than double within the next ten years.
"The combination of Wi-Fi and mobile technologies extends the power of broadband for consumers," said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO, WBA. "The work by the WBA and the GSMA will expedite the availability of a new generation of Internet access for the benefit of consumers everywhere. Key to this is Wi-Fi being able to replicate the success of mobile technology and allow users to roam seamlessly between different networks."
To date, the Wi-Fi roaming initiative has identified and agreed to the basis for a common approach to authenticating mobile devices on Wi-Fi hotspots, automatically and securely. It will now work towards aligning guidelines on security, billing, data offload, device implementation and network selection to create a consistent solution for GSMA and WBA members. This work will build on the GSMA's GPRS Roaming Exchange (GRX) and the WBA's Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange (WRIX) roaming models, which combined, will enable billions of consumers around the world to enjoy straightforward Internet connectivity.
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.
About the Wireless Broadband Alliance
Founded in 2003, the aim of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is to secure an outstanding user experience through the global deployment of next generation Wi-Fi. The WBA and its industry leading members are dedicated to delivering this quality experience through technology innovation, interoperability and robust security.
Today, membership includes major fixed operators such as BT, NTT Communications, Comcast and Time Warner Cable; seven of the top 10 mobile operator groups (by revenue) and leading technology companies such as Cisco, Google and Intel. WBA member operators collectively serve more than 1 billion subscribers and operate more than 1 million hotspots globally. They also work with international operators to drive innovation, deliver seamless connectivity and optimize network investments.
The WBA Board includes AT&T, BT, Boingo, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Intel, iPass, KT, NTT DOCOMO, Orange France and True Internet. www.wballiance.com