The two groups said that they will cooperate by sharing best practices for small cell and Wi-Fi hot spot deployments as well as managing the user experience on these different wireless access networks. They will also study how small cells could affect the WBA's and GSM Association (GSMA) 's efforts to simply Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) access.
But more importantly, the groups want to establish work on the integration between Wi-Fi and cellular small cells at a network level so that services like voice or SMS could be supported over Wi-Fi hot spot networks, for example, and operators would be able to use traffic management over radio interfaces to ensure an uninterrupted service when users move between the different network types.
This is the type of Wi-Fi/cellular network integration that Ericsson, for one, is working on since its acquisition of BelAir earlier this year. (See Ericsson Gets Busy With BelAir .)
And just how operators and vendors could eventually bridge the divide between Wi-Fi and cellular networks will be an important trend over the next year or so, as Light Reading Mobile's Dan Jones pointed out in this recent video blog:
Why this matters
Two industry groups deciding to work together is just a small step on the way to blending Wi-Fi and cellular small cell networks. But the development indicates what many operators would ultimately like to achieve in their small cell network strategies. And it also suggests just how much work there is to be done at many different levels to bring together the Wi-Fi and cellular camps, including rounding up the industry standards bodies like the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) , Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) and the Wi-Fi Alliance .
- AT&T: How Small Cells Fit the Big Picture
- Next Steps for Carrier Wi-Fi
- Telefónica Goes Wi-Fi for Small Cells
- Cisco: LTE Small Cell Is a 'Priority'
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile