GSMA, WBA collaborate to simplify Wi-Fi hotspot access for smartphones, tablets

The GSMA and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) are working together to simplify connectivity to Wi-Fi hotspots from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The initiative will enable automatic authentication of mobile devices on Wi-Fi networks, a GSMA statement announcing the collaboration said March 20, 2012.

“The joint initiative is developing technical and commercial frameworks for Wi-Fi roaming, which will bring together the benefits of mobile technology and Wi-Fi networks for the first time, creating a far simpler consumer experience,” the GSMA said.

“Through combining the proven capabilities of Mobile Broadband and Wi-Fi technologies, users will have the freedom to move between networks with ease,” said Dan Warren, Senior Director of Technology at the GSMA.

Wi-Fi is increasingly emerging as a feature on smartphones and tablets, but today there is no consistency in the way these devices attach to Wi-Fi networks.

This process includes device configuration, the use of access keys and the various mechanisms for acquiring and paying for connectivity. Wi-Fi roaming will allow mobile devices to seamlessly connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot using the SIM card for authentication, as well as enable mobile operators to uniquely and securely identify users whether they are on a mobile or Wi-Fi network.

The Wi-Fi roaming will be based on the WBA’s ‘Next Generation Hotspot’ programme and the Wi-Fi Alliance’s ‘Passpoint certification’ technology, the GSMA said.

The statement indicated that WBA will also build on the GSMA’s successful roaming principles that have propelled the mobile industry to more than six billion mobile connections worldwide.

“The work by the WBA and the GSMA will expedite the availability of a new generation of Internet access for the benefit of consumers everywhere. Key to this is Wi-Fi being able to replicate the success of mobile technology and allow users to roam seamlessly between different networks,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of WBA.

By Ekow Quandzie

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