WBA, GSMA expand next-gen Wi-Fi network at MWC

What a difference a year makes. Last year, six operators were involved in the Wi-Fi network sponsored by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and GSMA at the Mobile World Congress Fira Gran Via venue in Barcelona, Spain. This year, that number has ramped up to more than 30.

The WBA and the GSMA will deploy Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) and Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint on the Wi-Fi network during the duration of MWC from March 2-5. Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint is based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 specification; the Wi-Fi Alliance is also supporting the network.

Long gone are the days when wireless operators cast a dark eye on Wi-Fi. "Wi-Fi has been embraced by the cellular community as technology which neatly complements existing infrastructure investment," said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, in a press release. "By making the user experience, security and roaming agreements the same as their cellular counterparts, it now offers the perfect solution to provide additional capacity and coverage for operators."

The network will allow attendees using Passpoint-enabled iOS and Android devices from participating mobile operators to automatically roam onto the network using secure credentials and also benefit from a secure Wi-Fi connection, according to a press release.

The WBA estimates that about 8,000 users will access the NGH hotspot during the event, a spokesperson told FierceWirelessTech

The platform, provided again this year by Cisco, will demonstrate the range of NGH and Passpoint capabilities, allowing subscribers of participating carriers to roam seamlessly onto the public Wi-Fi network at the Fira Gran Via venue. 

After what promises to be a quick provision to their smartphones, the network will be available to any user that has a subscription with one of these operators: 2 Degrees, AIS Thailand, AT&T, Bell Mobility, BoingoWireless, BT, China Mobile, Comcast, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Fon, Idea Cellular, KT, Linktel Corp, Mobily, Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel, Mobilink, MTN Nigeria, NTT DoCoMo, Omantel, Orange, HKT, Portugal Telecom, Telkom Indonesia, SK Telecom, Sprint, Swisscom, Shaw Communications, Telstra, TELUS, Towerstream, True Corporation Plc. and Videotron. 

Additional technology partners include Accuris Networks, BSG Wireless, CableLabs, Front Porch, Spirent and Syniverse.

GSMA expects more than 86,000 attendees and 1,900 exhibitors for MWC next month.

For more:
- see this press release
- see this Telecompaper article

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