WBA to standardize Cisco WiFi roaming technology

March 19, 2020
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) intends to take over ownership and management of Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) OpenRoaming as a global wireless industry ...

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) intends to take over ownership and management of Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) OpenRoaming as a global wireless industry standard. The move is designed to facilitate the broad adoption of OpenRoaming by new and existing WiFi networks, identity and service providers and other technology partners across the global WiFi ecosystem.

WBA will take full control of the development, promotion and administration of OpenRoaming. OpenRoaming, a technology for WiFi onboarding developed by Cisco, is built upon a set of standards and guidelines developed by the WBA and Wi-Fi Alliance and now adopted as an industry-wide initiative led by the WBA. OpenRoaming has seen tremendous growth in the past year.

WBA CEO Tiago Rodrigues said: "OpenRoaming now becomes an open standard, creating a world where WiFi users will be able to move seamlessly from one WiFi network to another without re-registering or signing in. As a global wireless industry standard, WBA OpenRoaming will improve WiFi services and availability, making life easier for users and more efficient for the global mobile and WiFi ecosystem."

"OpenRoaming is now open for business," he said, "and I call on anyone with a WiFi network, private or public, coffee shop or sports stadia or any other type of venue, to join our open ecosystem in order for the service they offer to their users to be automatic, secure, and interoperable, making their networks available to a wider audience."

OpenRoaming adheres to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint and Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange (WRIX) standards. It is intended to help bridge the gap between WiFi and cellular networks and allow users to roam between WiFi networks without the use of splash pages or sign-in screens.

To do so, OpenRoaming brings together a federation of trusted identity providers, allowing users to join any network managed by a federation member. The network is able to automatically authenticate devices by using established identity providers, such as a service provider, device manufacturer, cloud ID, or even loyalty memberships. Companies including Boingo Wireless, Cisco, GlobalReach Technology, Intel, Korea Telekom, and others have pledged support for OpenRoaming.

"There is considerable pull from the industry and our customers, both enterprise and service provider, to automate secure onboarding across multiple verticals. We knew OpenRoaming would be a game-changing wireless technology, but the support from across the industry has even surpassed our expectations. OpenRoaming is vital to unlocking the potential of wireless communications," said Matt MacPherson, wireless CTO, Cisco. "Cisco has been proud to lead the OpenRoaming efforts, but we believe strongly that the WBA is the right organization to steward, with neutrality and confidence, such an important industry initiative."

As a result of the initiative, WBA's global ecosystem can now integrate OpenRoaming into its technologies, regardless of equipment provider.

Besides smartphones, companies are trialing OpenRoaming for autonomous and connected vehicles, and commercial developers are using OpenRoaming and location analytics tools to better understand how shoppers, patrons or employees are utilizing their space.

"OpenRoaming is the latest flavor of Passpoint technology that removes borders between cellular and WiFi connectivity," said Dr. Derek Peterson, CTO at Boingo. "With the support of the WBA, interoperable roaming will go further and fuel new opportunities for the 5G era. Boingo is an early adopter of OpenRoaming and looks forward to advancing its use cases alongside the WBA."        

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