WBA, GSMA identify more hurdles to cellular/Wi-Fi roaming

The Wireless Broadband Alliance said its ongoing collaboration with the GSMA to facilitate roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular networks has revealed that there are a couple of additional issues the industry needs to address: authentication signaling optimization and session continuity.

The issues became evident during Phase 2 of the two groups' core alignment activity to identify a set of best practices, said WBA in a blog entry.

The GSMA and WBA announced in March 2012 that they would collaborate on a framework to make roaming between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots more seamless by this year. The first phase of their work resulted in creation of a Wi-Fi roaming whitepaper.

The groups said last year that roaming across cellular and Wi-Fi networks will be based upon the WBA's Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) program and the Wi-Fi Alliance's Hotspot 2.0-based Passpoint certification program.

According to WBA's blog, dual-mode devices will mostly use Wi-Fi based on U/SIM card authentication, which will be carried out seamlessly with no input required from the user. "However, it was recognized that under certain circumstances this may lead to a large amount of signaling traffic at some key network nodes," the association said.

In short, the groups' joint task force discovered "that the introduction of SIM-based seamless authentication to Wi-Fi can only be a benefit to the mobile network customer when accessing these networks," WBA said.

Regarding the second issue recognized by the task force, WBA said, "The requirement for seamless service continuity between 3GPP and Wi-Fi networks was identified as a priority for our members with a clear and unified vision from both operators and vendors needed regarding the adoption of session continuity."

The task force identified two major session continuity solutions available in the industry: service layer continuity and IP layer continuity. According to a related white paper, the task force has presented a set of recommendations to bodies such as the Wi-Fi Alliance and 3GPP, as well as GSMA and WBA, on actions for further development related to session continuity.

"The GSMA and WBA will continue to work collaboratively in order to help further develop Wi-Fi Roaming with the aim of increasing the quality of user experience," WBA said in its blog.

For more:
- see this WBA blog entry

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