WBA extends Wi-Fi roaming program to 17 cities this summer

New York City (Pixabay)
New York City is among those participating in the City Wi-Fi Roaming project.

The City Wi-Fi Roaming project was so successful last year that organizers are running it for a second year and adding more cities.

AT&T, BT, Orange, Telstra and Korea Telecom are among the 38 operators that are contributing to the project, which is facilitated by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA). The project enables consumers and visitors to automatically and securely roam between public Wi-Fi networks in 17 major cities around the globe. It started June 20 and runs until August 20.

Last year, the City WI-Fi Roaming project involved just four cities. This year, the project expands to include Barcelona, Spain; Birmingham, U.K.; Bradford, U.K.; Dublin, Ireland; Singapore; Kazan, Russia; Leeds, U.K.; Limerick, Ireland; Moscow, Russia; New York City; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; Perm, Russia; St. Petersburg, Samara, Russia; San Jose, California; Sendai, Japan; and Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The WBA defined the framework and best practices for roaming for the project through its Next Generation Hotspot (NGH), which is based on Passpoint technology and WRIX, or Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange. The framework for Wi-Fi Roaming services provided by the WBA covers interconnection, data clearing, financial clearing and the exchange of Wi-Fi location information between operators.

“The free Wi-Fi roaming service is based on the WBA’s NGH, which not only allows consumers to seamlessly connect to Wi-Fi hotspots across major cities across the globe, but also ensures extra security and a better user experience are delivered to those that connect,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, in a release.

Besides the 38 operators, the project is supported by interconnectivity partners Accuris Networks, Syniverse and BSG Wireless, with infrastructure providers Cisco, HP’s Aruba and Ruckus Wireless. GlobalReach delivers the captive portal and provides a Wi-Fi AAA/Hotspot 2.0 online signup platform.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance is supported by more than 120 leading names in the telecom industry, including operators and technology companies such as AT&T, BT, Cisco, Comcast, NTT DoCoMo, Google, Intel, Liberty Global and Orange.

AT&T has said it sees Hotspot 2.0 as a “critical requirement” in its network and customer premises equipment. Hotspot 2.0 is designed to make public Wi-Fi as simple, secure and seamless for subscribers as cellular roaming. Passpoint-enabled networks use 802.1x to authenticate users onto WPA2 encrypted connections. Key benefits for end users include instant access to a network and security without the need of a VPN.