Wireless Broadband Alliance defines carrier Wi-Fi

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, today unveiled a comprehensive definition of carrier Wi-Fi, to help drive closer alignment with its cellular counterparts.

Carrier Wi-Fi is seen by operators as an important step to improving the Wi-Fi user experience, as it is increasingly used for cellular offload and delivering new services. The WBA has identified the requirements that a carrier Wi-Fi network needs to provide a consistent user experience, have fully integrated end-to-end network capabilities and offer advanced network management.

Carrier Wi-Fi is currently an industry buzzword, however, the term has lacked a universally recognized meaning among operators, vendors and industry bodies alike. A new set of guidelines, led and published by the WBA, aims to provide that common vision to the entire industry on what constitutes carrier Wi-Fi, drilling down to the details of the functional requirements of the network, analyzing what is available today and discussing what work still needs to be completed.

The WBA brought together nearly 20 of the world’s largest operators and vendors to participate in defining the carrier Wi-Fi vision. They include: Accuris Networks, AT&T, BSG Wireless, BSkyB, BT, CableLabs, China Mobile, Cisco, Comcast, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless, SK Telecom, Time Warner Cable and Towerstream.

The WBA has also started initial consultations with numerous industry bodies including the 3GPP, Broadband Forum, GSMA, NGMN and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

“To improve and enhance the user experience and deliver the desired services and a superior user experience has always been at the forefront in terms of the WBA’s priorities. By defining carrier Wi-Fi, the industry can now work together to put the building blocks in place to deliver advanced Wi-Fi networks,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO, WBA.

“This work will help ensure that consumers connecting to a carrier Wi-Fi network will be exposed to the best user experience possible, regardless of time or location,” added Shenwai.

“Achieving a common vision for the future of carrier Wi-Fi and what needs to be put in place to make it a reality is imperative, and we are delighted to be involved in such an important initiative,” said Philippe Lucas, senior vice president Standardization & Ecosystems Development, Orange who led this initiative together with Ruckus Wireless.

“These guidelines encompass input from across the Wi-Fi ecosystem and we are confident that we have addressed the key issues and laid the groundwork for the deployment of these networks. This will secure Wi-Fi’s reputation as one of the most convenient and accessible connectivity options for the end user,” added Lucas.

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