Wi-Fi is arguably the most ground-breaking wireless technology of our time. From the first public Wi-Fi hotspots in the early 2000s which enabled radically increased productivity on the move, through to the role Wi-Fi is has in today’s pandemic environment, keeping us all connected for work, study, entertainment and maintaining contact with family and friends. Today, I’m proud to be able to invite all organizations in the Wi-Fi ecosystem to shape a new generation of connectivity with the launch of WBA OpenRoaming, a globally available Wi-Fi federation offering automatic and secure connectivity to millions of Wi-Fi networks.
WBA OpenRoaming is a worldwide, standards-led approach to public-guest Wi-Fi. Our goal is to revolutionize how individual users as well as businesses engage with Wi-Fi, removing the need to repeatedly log in, re-connect, share passwords or re-register for Wi-Fi networks as we travel locally, nationally or internationally. Instead, no matter where we are, the new framework automates how users connect to Wi-Fi while seamlessly aligning to cellular network connectivity. It does so by bringing together a federation of trusted identity providers so that individual users are allowed to automatically join any network managed by a federation member.
Removing barriers to smooth connectivity
WBA OpenRoaming removes the friction currently involved in joining public-guest Wi-Fi. No more repeated typing of log-in credentials whenever a user enters a public hotspot. No more registering and re-registering or share passwords to public-guest Wi-Fi. And no more automatic searching for networks, since companies that join the WBA OpenRoaming initiative enable their users to experience exceptional ease-of-use, availability and seamless connectivity with automatic network discovery and selection.
Forging business opportunities
While end-users experience automated, secure, seamless connectivity, cities, enterprises, venues, operators, vendors and interconnect providers all stand to benefit from the growing demand for Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi roaming. WBA OpenRoaming is available to any company that owns or manages a Wi-Fi network and is interested in creating or enhancing business revenues and/or customer satisfaction through Wi-Fi connectivity. The initiative is equally targeted at venues as diverse as small independent coffee shops through to five-star hotel chains or cities. The WBA OpenRoaming framework offers organizations large and small the capability to rapidly ramp up new growth opportunities and business models in the 5G era.
A future built around collaboration
Seamless, secure Wi-Fi connectivity at scale is the culmination of a decade of collaboration between WBA members. Industry giant Cisco first incubated the idea but to achieve truly global adoption based on open standards, WBA partnered with Cisco, to help pave the way for WBA OpenRoaming to be available to all.
Using a core framework, three key features of WBA OpenRoaming include cloud federation, cyber security and network automation:
- Cloud federation: creates a federation of networks and identity providers to enable automatic roaming and user onboarding on Wi-Fi. Based on WBA’s Wireless Roaming Intermediary eXchange (WRIX) standards to scale and facilitate different business models under a harmonized framework.
- Cyber Security: enables simple, secure and scalable Wi-Fi connections amongst different organizations that are part of WBA OpenRoaming™. Allowing automatic and secure roaming between millions of networks, nationally and globally with secured interconnection and encrypted communications.
- Network automation: defines an automated roaming consortium codes framework (RCOI) to support policy provision on devices and networks. Organizations that manage a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint®-enabled network may become part of the WBA OpenRoaming™ federation.
The pioneering companies – members of WBA – supporting the WBA OpenRoaming standards include: Airmesh, Airties, Aprecomm, American Tower, Aptilo, AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Broadcom Inc, Cisco, Cityroam, Comcast, Commscope, Deutsche Telekom, Eduroam, Eleven Software, GlobalReachTechnology, Google, Hub One, Hughes Systique Corp, Intel Corporation, IT&E, m3connect, Nomosphere, Orange, Purple Wi-Fi, Samsung, Single Digits, Sun Global, Veniam, WifiCoin and Zephyrtel. Together these companies provide Wi-Fi services that reach billions of people and things.