Wireless Broadband Alliance releases standardized way to roam to WiFi networks

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) announced some new big-wig mobile operator members and announced a standardized way to enable roaming between mobile devices and WiFi hotspots.

WBA announced AT&T (NYSE:T), Cisco, Comcast, Devicescape, Korea's KT and Verizon (NYSE:VZ)  joined the group. WBA Chairman and BT Openzone CEO Chris Bruce told FierceBroadbandWireless that the alliance is opening up its membership to operators, device makers, equipment vendors and content and information providers as WiFi comes to the forefront as a data offload mechanism for mobile operators.  The WBA is also working closer with the Wi-Fi Alliance.

This week saw the WBA's annual Roundtable Conference and WiFi Ecosystem Summit in San Diego, where WBA released a set of specifications to aid roaming between WiFi operators and mobile networks. The new spec, WISPr 2.0, will provide seamless authentication between WiFi networks and other access networks, including WiMAX.

WBA CEO Shrikant Shenwai said WISPr has existed but it was never certified, resulting in vendors using pieces of it in a non-uniform way. "With 2.0 we looked at the common problems and fixed those so that the specification is consistently implemented," Shenwai said in an interview.

A WISPr 2.0 trial was launched at this week's event to bring WBA members and industry partners together to demonstrate how mobile, cable, WiMAX and broadband service providers can seamlessly connect to WiFi networks via WISPr 2.0. Participants will work with leading wireless broadband operators to make their equipment and software compatible with WISPr 2.0 and to support seamless authentication on public WiFi networks around the world. The initial trial is expected last six months.

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