The importance of Wi-Fi to cable operators, mobile carriers and telcos is evidenced by the list of 14 companies joining the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), whose mission includes enabling Wi-Fi interoperability and roaming. The group said the new members "have joined its efforts to unite the ecosystem and progress the development of carrier Wi-Fi throughout the world."
The list includes U.S. cable MSO Charter Communications, international cable company Liberty Global, Saudi Arabian mobile operator Mobily, Australian telco Telstra and Canadian telco Telus. Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Broadcom and Gemalto are also among vendors on the list of new WBA members.
The new members are joining WBA "at a pivotal time when Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) networks are now a commercial reality and operators are reaping the benefits of an improved carrier-grade of Wi-Fi," the group said. Cable operators, in particular, have aggressively jumped on the Wi-Fi bandwagon as they seek to extend their customer touch points beyond homes and businesses and offer a less expensive wireless data alternative to costly cellular data service.
"These new additions join at a critical time when the benefits of Wi-Fi have been fully recognized and solutions such as NGH, carrier Wi-Fi and community Wi-Fi have finally broken in to the commercial world. Our new members play a crucial role in ensuring that consumers connecting to a Wi-Fi network will be exposed to the best user experience possible, regardless of time or location," said Shrikant Shenwai, WBA CEO.
In February, the WBA rolled out its definition of carrier Wi-Fi, identifying the requirements that a carrier Wi-Fi network needs to provide a consistent user experience, have fully integrated end-to-end network capabilities and offer advanced network management. The alliance also collaborated with the Small Cell Forum on a white paper regarding next-generation hotspot-based integrated small cell Wi-Fi. The two groups are expected to maintain an ongoing collaboration with that will produce more research.
Existing WBA members include early advocates of Wi-Fi and offloading from cellular to Wi-Fi, including AT&T (NYSE: T), Boingo Wireless, BT, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Intel, iPass, KT, NTT DoCoMo, Orange and Time Warner Cable. The WBA has more than 100 members from various parts of the Wi-Fi ecosystem. Its operator members collectively serve more than 1 billion subscribers and operate more than 10 million hotspots globally.
The fifth Wi-Fi Global Congress and 25th WBA Roundtable Conference will be held Oct. 6-10 in San Francisco.
- see this WBA release
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