WBA launches OpenRoaming Release 3 and hits over a million hotspots    

WBA launches OpenRoaming Release 3 and hits over a million hotspots    
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Consumers and businesses benefit from automatic, secure, private and carrier-grade Wi-Fi across offices, university campuses, arenas, airports, hospitals and more.
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

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The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has announced that the number of OpenRoaming™ hotspots has passed one million worldwide. This milestone is the latest example of the success of WBA OpenRoaming in providing Wi-Fi users seamless and automatic network access, enterprise-grade security and — with Wi-Fi 6 and 6E— a carrier-grade Wi-Fi experience across multiple locations.

WBA has also announced Release 3 of OpenRoaming, which will make the business and commercial aspects of roaming easier than ever before and importantly, cut back on hundreds of hours of legal and administrative time when establishing roaming settlement agreements.

 

Over one million global hotspots

The one million OpenRoaming hotspots span a 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.

WBA OpenRoaming enables enterprises, device OEMs, service providers and others to offer business users and consumers automatic, secure, friction-free access to Wi-Fi. It offers flexibility to support a variety of business models and quality of service suitable for their customers. Launched in May 2020, the OpenRoaming platform was developed as a global solution based on a common set of standards to bridge the gap between cellular and Wi-Fi, offering users frictionless connectivity as users roam between guest Wi-Fi networks and public Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as from cellular to Wi-Fi.

OpenRoaming enables venues to get their patrons connected seamlessly and quickly. It removes hurdles to get users onboarded and increases opportunities for engagement. 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.

OpenRoaming also helps enterprises ensure a gold standard of privacy and establish a high bar of security. It ensures a strong bar of security as a baseline. This is a major benefit for users and enterprises alike and an improvement from connecting via open and unsecure networks. In an era of hybrid work/play culture, secure Wi-Fi networks are paramount to combating the growing threat of hacks, scams and espionage. For example, all 24 Adventist Health hospital campuses now use OpenRoaming so staff and visitors can connect seamlessly and securely to the Wi-Fi network without additional training or needing to enter login credentials. This saves doctors and nurses valuable time and ensures that staff, patient and visitor data goes over a secure, private Wi-Fi connection.

 

OpenRoaming Release 3

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.

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.

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said: “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 recognized 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.

“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.”

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 amongst the growing eco-system.

Matt MacPherson, Wireless CTO, Cisco said: “OpenRoaming is game-changing technology. It was designed to solve a major problem in our industry — seamless and secure onboarding — but has since grown to play a fundamental role in the vision we have of Wi-Fi and Cellular networks moving forward. By reaching one million hotpsots worldwide, and also introducing Release 3 to remove barriers to adoption, OpenRoaming is cementing its place as a foundational piece of wireless technology.”

Further developments on OpenRoaming will be announced this year with the next release of the standard.

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