Carrier Wi-Fi roaming demonstration planned

Wireless Broadband Alliance, Wi-Fi Alliance continue to collaborate on Carrier Wi-Fi developments.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the Wi-Fi Alliance will co-host a Wi-Fi roaming demonstration at next week's Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain, mounted in association with the co-located WBA Carrier Wi-Fi Summit.

Supported by 18 operators, the demonstration offers an exclusive look at a live WBA Next Generation Hotspot network using Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint equipment from seven vendors, and reflects significant momentum toward industry-standard Wi-Fi hotspots and roaming, say the consortiums. Visitors to the demonstration will be able to experience seamless network authentication, where a number of the latest Wi-Fi Passpoint devices will be made available for attendees to roam on to the demonstration network.

“Confidence in Wi-Fi has increased significantly over the past 12 months as operators view it as a critical part of the Hetnet. With next-generation Hotspot deployments becoming more commonplace, this confidence will continue to grow well into the future,” contends Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of Wireless Broadband Alliance. “We are pleased to extend our work with Wi-Fi Alliance to ensure that our industry is delivering on the promise of Carrier Wi-Fi.”

See also: 14 deliverables for HetNet systems integrators

With data traffic pressure on wireless networks expected to increase more than 400 percent in the next four years, industry support for Wi-Fi roaming services leveraging NGH Guidelines and Passpoint is coalescing. Recent research conducted by Maravedis-Rethink on behalf of WBA indicates that more than half of operators surveyed have become “more confident” about investing in public Wi-Fi than in the previous year. More than 27 global operators have participated in three phases of WBA NGH trials, and to date, more than 400 devices have obtained Passpoint certification, including a wide range of smartphones and tablets.

“The availability of industry-standard Wi-Fi roaming as a successor to proprietary implementations sets the stage for deployment by a broad set of mobile operators,” asserts Caroline Gabriel, research director at Maravedis-Rethink. “Progress in Passpoint device implementation and broad consensus on roaming guidelines significantly eases deployment, enabling operators to realize the opportunities for advanced Wi-Fi roaming.”

In response to Wi-Fi deployment trends among operators, Wi-Fi Alliance and WBA have reportedly expanded their collaboration beyond coordination on hotspot technology requirements into a broader set of activities to advance Carrier Wi-Fi. Coordination among several influential industry groups will help define a shared vision for Carrier Wi-Fi and identify early opportunities to deliver on that vision, say the consortiums. Wi-Fi technology innovations have the potential to further enhance the user experience, drive end-to-end integration, and improve network management, they say.

Related: $8.5B forecasted to be spent on Carrier Wi-Fi equipment over next 5 years

“Collaboration among stakeholders is more important than ever as operator Wi-Fi deployments accelerate,” comments Wi-Fi Alliance president and CEO Edgar Figueroa. “Our work with WBA is an important element to continue our industry’s progress toward Carrier Wi-Fi.”

The upcoming Wi-Fi roaming demonstration will take place as part of the WBA Carrier Wi-Fi Summit. The event will include a conference, networking opportunities, and exhibition. Wi-Fi Alliance, a lead industry partner for the event, will participate with an executive keynote speaker and help lead a session addressing tactical considerations in deploying Passpoint and NGH. To see the full agenda, visit: http://www.wballiance.com/carrier-wi-fi-summit/conference-program

More coverage: Cost comparison: Small cells vs. Carrier Wi-Fi vs. DAS

More in Wireless/5G