The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) yesterday said that the number of OpenRoaming hotspots has passed 1 million worldwide.
Launched in May 2020, OpenRoaming is a multi-vendor initiative to provide a better bridge between mobile and Wi-Fi networks It is a roaming federation service enabling an automatic and secure Wi-Fi experience globally.
With OpenRoaming, telecommunications service providers will be able to ensure their users get onto Wi-Fi seamlessly and securely the second they walk into a participating location. Users will be able to employ their mobile carrier identity for authentication, granting them seamless access to participating wireless networks around the world to ensure they are always connected.
The OpenRoaming standard frees users from the need to constantly re-register or re-enter log-in credentials and provides performance guarantees and quality of experience (QoE) capabilities as users roam between different public/private Wi-Fi realms. Most importantly, it removes hurdles to get users onboarded and increases opportunities for engagement
“In just 18 months, WBA OpenRoaming has already surpassed 1 million hotspots worldwide. That’s a major milestone — one that highlights how quickly the marketplace has recognised the benefits for network operators, infrastructure vendors, device OEMs and end users. It also reflects demand driven by the emergence of private 5G networks requiring simple roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi,” said Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of WBA.
OpenRoaming transforms the Wi-Fi experience for consumers and businesses and opens up opportunities for broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity across business verticals, including retail, hospitality, education, smart cities, automotive and aviation, among many others.
Rodrigues added: “But this milestone is just the beginning. We expect to see even more types of locations adopt WBA OpenRoaming, including hotels, cafés, trains, planes and connected cars. In fact, in our most recent cross-industry survey, 40% of businesses said they have implemented Passpoint/OpenRoaming or plan to do so before the end of this year. Wherever you work, live and play, OpenRoaming will be there.”
To date, WBA revealed that OpenRoaming hotspots have been deployed in wide variety of venues, including airports, universities, stadiums/arenas, office buildings and municipalities. Examples include San Jose State University, Fira Barcelona Gran Via, Canary Wharf, London Stadium, Live Nation BottleRock Festival, Brazil’s São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport and various European municipalities and tourist destinations enabled by Boingo, Cisco, CommScope, Extreme Networks and other members of the federation.
A recent proof of concept deployment by WBA member, Airties, to automatically onboard Wi-Fi client devices to a residential Wi-Fi 6 network also paves the way for the rollout of OpenRoaming across in-home Wi-Fi networks.
Wi-Fi makes cellular better
According to WBA, OpenRoaming is creating an open connectivity framework for all organizations in the wireless ecosystem to power new opportunities in the 5G era.
Many industry insiders have said that 5G will make Wi-Fi redundant. In truth, however, both cellular (licensed spectrum) and Wi-Fi networks complement each other, as Wi-Fi can pick up some of the load from cellular networks. The challenge is to simplify the user experience by managing the hand-off between them in a way that works seamlessly for consumers while still benefiting the carriers.
The new local wireless standard, Wi-Fi 6, is an ideal counterpart to the emerging 5G network. Wi-Fi 6 brings higher data rates, lower latency, increased capacity, and even better battery life to mobile devices.
The combination of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will unlock potential in the network for exciting new services and products: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 4K video, and even more sophisticated IoT devices. Ensuring a seamless experience across 5G and Wi-Fi, indoors and outdoors, will be more important than ever.
OpenRoaming has been adopted by most major Wi-Fi equipment vendors and device OEMs. Federation members include Adentro, Airties, Boingo, Broadcom, Cisco, Cityroam, Cloud4WI, Commscope, eduroam, Enea, Extreme Networks, GlobalReach, Intel, Kyrio Samsung, Single Digits, and many others among the growing ecosystem.
Meanwhile, WBA also launched yesterday Release 3 of OpenRoaming, which will cut back on hundreds of hours of legal and administrative time when establishing roaming settlement agreements. This will make the business and commercial aspects of roaming easier than ever before.
Release 3 includes a significant improvement on the legal and commercial framework providing the ability to implement a new templated approach, making commercial arrangements between federation members simpler and easy to scale. Dynamic settlement capabilities make it possible for rate variations to be varied at peak times.
“By introducing Release 3 to remove barriers to adoption, OpenRoaming is cementing its place as a foundational piece of wireless technology,” said Matt MacPherson, Wireless CTO, Cisco.
In addition, Release 3 has been enhanced to include automated tools, reporting and API’s to significantly reduce the overhead for management and administration of an OpenRoaming network, while providing an online portal for federation members to self-serve. Enhanced Identity Proofing has also been enabled so that identity providers are able to meet regulatory and legislative requirements as well as corporate and business needs.