OpenRoaming Q&A with CEO of Wireless Broadband Alliance

By on August 6th, 2020

Seamless, secure, and simple: that is how the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) describes one of its latest initiatives called OpenRoaming.

In this Q&A, CEO Tiago Rodrigues shares the exciting news about this global Wi-Fi network. We explore OpenRoaming’s purpose, its benefits, and where you can expect to see it available.

Q: Can you give us an overview of OpenRoaming and the steps the WBA has taken to create this opportunity?

Our goal with WBA OpenRoaming is to enable one global Wi-Fi network. WBA OpenRoaming is a globally available Wi-Fi federation that offers automatic and secure connectivity to millions of Wi-Fi networks. It’s a worldwide, standards-led approach to public-guest Wi-Fi. We want to improve how individual users as well as businesses engage with Wi-Fi, so for instance, OpenRoaming removes the need to repeatedly log in, re-connect, share passwords or re-register for Wi-Fi networks as you travel locally, nationally or internationally.

Wi-Fi is one of, if not THE most, ground- breaking wireless technology. Just consider how it has re-shaped people’s relationship with work, how it’s enabled productivity on the move and how during the global pandemic people have come to rely on it to work, study and keep connected to family and friends. With OpenRoaming we are defining a new generation of Wi-Fi connectivity.

Q: What are the benefits of OpenRoaming to consumers?

Without a doubt that would be its ease-of-use, combined with peace of mind. OpenRoaming changes the way users connect to Wi-Fi. After one initial sign-up, consumers gain access to the public guest Wi-Fi networks of all the members of the federation. No matter where in the world you are, OpenRoaming automates how you connect to Wi-Fi while seamlessly aligning to cellular network connectivity.  It does this 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. You can be in a stadium, a theatre, a coffee shop, it doesn’t matter, because it will just connect. In fact, consumers shouldn’t really notice OpenRoaming, because it works in the background ensuring that their Wi-Fi connectivity is uninterrupted and secure.

Q: How does OpenRoaming futureproof network providers for convergence with 5G?

By changing how millions of Wi-Fi networks manage access, we are enabling one seamless global Wi-Fi network and opening up business opportunities in a 5G world. Businesses that join the OpenRoaming federation benefit by extending and deepening customer relationships, improving their customers’ experience and even creating new business models. It provides customers with automatic and secure Wi-fi connectivity, as well as unprecedented global reach of millions of Wi-Fi hotspots supported by WBA OpenRoaming members. But it goes further than that too, since OpenRoaming enables businesses to easily build roaming partnerships and enlarge their Wi-Fi portfolio of services. Members can grow and scale Wi-Fi revenues (roaming and offload) or provide opportunities to develop new business revenues and customers. Finally, OpenRoaming future-proofs networks for convergence with 5G by building on standards such as WRiX and Passpoint®.

Q: Can you tell us about the organization and results of the OpenRoaming pilot programs?

The pilot programs, such as the one in Barcelona or on Orkney, Scotland, have been valuable in teaching us how the different federation members knit together to create a seamless public Wi-Fi experience, and what that experience is like for consumers. For example, attendees of Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, in 2019 were among the first to trial the OpenRoaming framework in a joint initiative with WBA, Cisco and Samsung. The venue’s network is run by a company called Unitronics, the city of Barcelona’s is run by Cellnex. Even the city’s airport and train stations were part of the trial. For conference-goers, it felt like one big, seamless network. That’s why, when it comes to actual feedback from individual users…well, we don’t have too much to share. They just…connected. It was as easy as that. And it enabled individual users to use less data! But, of course, there’s a lot of complexity hiding behind that kind of easy, intuitive customer experience. From the business standpoint, it enables federation members to extend and deepen roaming relationships and even create new business models.

Q: When and where can we expect to see OpenRoaming appear first?

You’ll see the first commercial deployment take place in Europe, in London’s Canary Wharf, thanks to an initiative between Cisco and Virgin Media. It means that for residents of the Canary Wharf estate, roaming between different Wi-Fi hotspots will be simple, seamless and secure. From a commercial perspective, OpenRoaming will allow Virgin Media and Cisco to use advanced location-based analytics to enable its clients to roll out new services to their customers. Whatever kind of business you’re in, whether you are a small coffee shop or five-star hotel chain, if you own or offer a public Wi-Fi network to customers, WBA OpenRoaming enables you to improve your customer experience and ramp up new growth opportunities based around the increasing demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s easy to sign up, simply go to https://wballiance.com/openroaming/ for more details or talk to your IT solutions provider.

Click here to learn more about OpenRoaming and Wireless Broadband Alliance!

 

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