& cplSiteName &

WiFi Roaming: The Technical Considerations

Steve Livingston
2/7/2014
50%
50%

The vision for WiFi 2.0 or next-generation hotspots (NGH), as outlined by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and noted in previous blog entries, is for WiFi roaming to become truly interoperable, whereby end users can seamlessly roam between WiFi networks and providers. (See Commercial Opportunities in the 'Internet Anywhere' Space and WiFi 2.0: Roaming Holds the Key.)

For this to happen, "there needs to be standardisation across all elements involved -- from mobile device, to access point, to service provider," the WBA points out. "In order for Wi-Fi roaming to become a truly disruptive innovation, there needs to be very little fragmentation in deployments. Wi-Fi service providers, mobile service providers and hardware manufacturers must all work to the same guidelines and standards."

However, the reality is that ubiquity is still a long way off. There are multiple providers, multiple standards, and a mix of legacy and NGH infrastructure. Support for the 802.1x/EAP standard is growing, but it's still limited, given that infrastructure rip-and-replace projects are costly and happen slowly.

Market success for this vision requires a solution that will span multiple generations of WiFi networks and can leverage the world's current supply.

To facilitate global WiFi roaming today, legacy infrastructure needs to work like NGH infrastructure, and NGH needs to work like legacy. Both must be accessible in a common format. This means that interim solutions are now critical to bridge the gap and provide customers with a WiFi 2.0-like experience today and into the foreseeable future.

What kinds of things does a bridging solution need to consider? In order to roam between networks and providers (WiFi and cellular), operators need to achieve three crucial transactions seamlessly -- authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA). It is crucial for operators to be able to manage subscribers effectively by seamlessly authenticating and authorizing them every time they log on to a network. However, mobile network operators (MNOs) traditionally have not been able to authenticate WiFi access at the device level. The majority of WiFi networks support only WISPr v1.0, and this requires authentication to be performed using remote authentication dial-in user service.

Device-based AAA (DBA) solutions (as used by iPass) provide an EAP-SIM experience over today's WISPr network by translating WiFi credentials from subscribed devices into a device identity within the network services fabric. By automating access and authentication and securely relating the data session to the mobile subscriber's cellular identity, a DBA solution frees MNOs from entering cumbersome usernames and passwords. These solutions are interoperable with GSM, CDMA, or LTE operational and business support systems. They emulate an international mobile subscriber identity for GMA networks and a mobile identification number for CDMA networks. This means that a mobile device identifier, not a person or user, is the common element to provisioning, authorizing, and charging for services across different networks.

This kind of bridging technology is a game changer bringing the legacy and NGH WiFi worlds together for users while we wait for WiFi 2.0. With this technology, subscribers can effectively experience the concept of 2.0 earlier than the infrastructure is forecast to allow. Operators should be keenly tuned into this opportunity to protect their subscriber base from seeking competitive offerings from players that can bundle all device types (including WiFi-only ones) on to a single roaming plan.

— Steve Livingston, Senior VP, Open Mobile Exchange, iPass

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
MKassner
50%
50%
MKassner,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/11/2014 | 7:42:36 AM
Why is it needed?
With LTE and other wireless networks, I am curious as to why Wi-Fi has to follow suit? I do not see the business plan for it. And perchance, is Wi-Max being conveniently forgotten by marketers. 
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/9/2014 | 10:41:52 AM
Not surprising
The handoff between Wi-Fi and network service (as in leaving a coffee shop with Wi-Fi) is shaky at best, too. So it's not surprising that interoperability between different Wi-Fi providers is several years off. This won't change until the providers see a common benefit in working together. That is certainly not likely to happen any time soon.
pzernik
50%
50%
pzernik,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/8/2014 | 7:58:32 PM
Re: 802.11 standards?
It should also be possible for carriers to share the infrastructure, only authenticate their subscribers, and have different "splash screens" for their customers.  Broadcast pay-per-view services in a venue/sports arena type scenario should be very profitable.  We will see how this takes off.
jiflorwi
50%
50%
jiflorwi,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/8/2014 | 8:25:45 AM
Re: 802.11 standards?
802.11v and r address physical layer issues associated with wi-fi roaming by allowing the network to inform the device on preferences and options for a graceful physical layer roam - which includes shared credentials and state - but is limited to the existing AAA for that network.  Wi-Fi 2.0 - hotspot - addresses the actual AAA transaction and how it is authenticated - without the user being involved.  No username or password is entered - the network discovers you.  Moreover - the autentication can be shared globally with traditional 3g/4g subscriber data bases and support roaming between mutiple networks.   It is a unified AAA accorss technologies.
Steve Livingston iPass
50%
50%
Steve Livingston iPass,
User Rank: Blogger
2/7/2014 | 6:37:45 PM
Re: 802.11 standards?
Yes, you are correct. While support for 802.1x / EAP is growing, it is still limited to a small number of devices. Market success for Wi-Fi roaming requires a solution that will span multiple generations of Wi-Fi networks, leveraging the world's supply. The ultimate goal in launching an international Wi-Fi roaming service is to provide access to the most broad and meaningful Wi-Fi footprint possible in a simple and easy-to-use manner. There is a significant installed base of legacy Wi-Fi hotspots that the iPass device-based AAA solution can leverage to help bolster the market for device-based AAA Wi-Fi roaming services, helping to make Wi-Fi roaming widely available.

 
macemoneta
50%
50%
macemoneta,
User Rank: Lightning
2/7/2014 | 1:35:50 PM
802.11 standards?
Isn't WiFi roaming the purpose of 802.11k and 802.11r? Some mobile devices already support these standards.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Column
Sometimes your day job has to come before championing the women in tech cause, but that can be equally as beneficial, inspirational and productive.
As a month-long, multi-city, 12-hour/day, multi-time zone, multi-device extravaganza, the NCAA basketball tournament poses unique streaming video challenges.
As the 3GPP agrees on plan to accelerate 5G NR -- the global 5G standard -- for 2019 deployments, a Qualcomm VP walks us through the reasons why.
There is no substitute for testing under the most realistic conditions if you want to minimize the chances of network downtime.
Stephen Cameron and Chris Pinnock examine the implications of the impending EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is due to come into force in May 2018 and which will affect every organization that uses the data of European citizens.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


The Citrix NetScaler mobile gateway is an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, NetScaler can be deployed on any hypervisor, on a ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: 2 Billion Adults 'Trapped' in Cash Economy

3|21|17   |   03:51   |   (0) comments


Despite advances made in the last several years, two billion adults around the world are trapped in a cash economy and lack what we take for granted -- a safe way to receive, save and use money. Shamina Singh, executive vice president of sustainability and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, chats about how Mastercard is developing new ways to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: Payment From Every Device

3|21|17   |   5:55   |   (0) comments


A world where everything and everyone is connected creates new points of interaction for commerce. These digital experiences cannot be developed in isolation and instead require an ecosystem to drive mass consumer and enterprise adoption and create better consumer engagement. Predicting when that growth will happen is difficult, but always keeping the end user in ...
LRTV Interviews
InterDigital's Role in the 5G, IoT Era

3|21|17   |   05:47   |   (0) comments


Alan Carlton, managing director and VP for Europe at InterDigital, talks about the company's role in 5G projects in Europe and the prospects for the company in the IoT market.
LRTV Interviews
Lessons Learned From Digital Transformation

3|21|17   |   05:51   |   (0) comments


Ravi Palepu, global head of Telco Solutions at Virtusa, talks about some key takeaways from telco digital transformation experiences during the past couple of years.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
NetNumber's CMO Shares Her Diversity Do's

3|21|17   |   3:19   |   (2) comments


The telecom industry is transforming the world, and diversity plays a critical role in driving the innovation behind it. NetNumber CMO Kim Gibbons shares why diversity and being authentic is a do amidst all the don'ts women in comms often hear.
LRTV Custom TV
Software-Driven Architecture for 5G & IOT

3|20|17   |   1:56   |   (0) comments


We present Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges's report from Mobile World Congress -- where operators and vendors are working to bring a variety of technologies together to make virtualization a reality in the era of 5G and IoT.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
Eurobites: Italy First Pasta the Post for 5G
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/17/2017
5G Faces a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Iain Morris, News Editor, 3/17/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
Russia's MTS: There Is No 5G Business Case
Iain Morris, News Editor, 3/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.