AT&T, others pass first hurdle in WBA's global Wi-Fi roaming effort

AT&T (NYSE:T), China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo and Orange are among the first wireless service providers to complete initial network assessments for the Wireless Broadband Alliance's Interoperability Compliance Program (ICP). The ICP aims to encourage international Wi-Fi roaming by helping carriers adopt a common set of requirements and procedures.

Others completing the initial assessments include U.S.-based Boingo Wireless, the United Kingdom's BT, BT, Korea Telecom (KT), Portugal Telecom, Hong Kong's PCCW, Canada's Shaw Communications and Thailand's True

"The operator community is working together to simplify roaming, and we plan to expand our own Wi-Fi roaming partnerships with numerous operators by participating in this initiative. We are excited to see how this program will benefit the ecosystem over the coming year," said Atsuhisa Shirai, DoCoMo's director/head of international roaming, global business department.

"AT&T is proud to support the WBA in their effort to reduce the friction around Wi-Fi interoperability and continue to drive compatibility across the ecosystem," said JR Wilson, chairman of the WBA and vice president of partnerships and alliances at AT&T Mobility. "This initiative will ultimately help establish clear guidelines for operators to create a roadmap of the evolution of hotspots and eventually develop a directory of various carriers' Wi-Fi capabilities, which will enable carriers to deliver a better mobile data experience to customers when they travel abroad."

The ICP was first announced in December, and participating operators began conducting self-assessments to gauge the quality of their various network characteristics, including authentication, network discovery and selection, network access security, data clearing/settlement, customer support, information exchange and charging models.

Since then, the WBA has created a set of compliance guidelines, offering different support levels to operators. "These range from simple integration requirements for roaming partners, to delivering support for the latest in session security, to more complex charging models and billing mechanisms required for the implementation of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH)," said the group.

Using Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint equipment, users will be able to access NGHs without the need for usernames and passwords. The NGH program is expected to encourage roaming relationships among operators domestically and around the world.

The WBA expects the first public NGH deployments to occur this year.

For more:
- see this WBA release

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