Operators will test Wi-Fi roaming, simplified login in Q4

Wi-Fi Alliance lays the groundwork by starting its Passpoint certification program

The Wi-Fi Alliance has begun certifying products that simplify access to hotspots and roaming between different mobile service operators; providers and equipment vendors are expected to test these products in the fourth quarter, the Wireless Broadband Alliance said on Tuesday.

Mobile operators see Wi-Fi as a way to offload traffic from their networks to handle growing data volumes.

While Wi-Fi is already used by operators all over the world, the work currently underway aims to take the use of the technology to the next level. Users will be able to authenticate with a SIM card and move between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots from different providers both at home and abroad.

Leading the charge is the Wi-Fi Alliance. On Tuesday, the organization announced it had started certifying the underlying products as part of the organization's Passpoint program, which is based on technology defined in its Hotspot 2.0 specification.

The certification program is a major milestone for Wi-Fi technology, because there is now finally a single industry-wide solution for seamless access to Wi-Fi-based mobile broadband, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Certified mobile devices can automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by access points that have also been approved.

The first products to be certified include access points, controllers and clients from BelAir Networks, which is owned by Ericsson, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Ruckus Wireless.

Next, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) along with a number of operators will conduct trials during the fourth quarter to see if they work as intended.

A first set of trials were organized earlier this year, and the first commercial services are expected to be launched during the first half of next year, according to the WBA.

The second round of tests will delve into more complicated features, including operator-to-operator billing procedures when users are roaming and what Wi-Fi network to choose if more than one is available, according to Tiago Rodrigues, program director at WBA.

"Different metrics can be used [when the device chooses which network to connect to]. Probably the most common one will be the quality of the bandwidth. The devices will have the intelligence to make an initial assessment to understand which hotspot can offer the best service," said Rodrigues.

The technology to make such an assessment is still under development, and the first prototype clients that can perform intelligent network selection will be used during the trial, according to Rodrigues.

Most of the operators are expected to test SIM-based authentication methods, but there will also be interoperability tests of other methods based on EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) for devices such as cameras and tablets that don't have SIM cards, Rodrigues said.

There are several goals with the Q4 trial. They will allow operators to get more experience with the technology as they prepare to launch commercial services, and also find things that need to be improved and fine-tuned by organizations such as the Wi-Fi Alliance and GSM Association, according to Rodrigues.

Thirty-seven operators and 24 vendors will take part in the trial, according to the WBA. The first group includes AT&T, China Mobile, Orange and Time Warner Cable while the vendors list includes companies such as Cisco Systems, Ericsson and Intel.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?