The GSMA and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) are working on a plan to allow smartphones to easily and seamlessly roam between different Wi-Fi networks, even if these are managed by separate companies.
These two trade groups are deeply involved in this issue. The GSMA represents the interests of wireless carriers worldwide, while the WBA brings together companies that make Wi-Fi equipment.
Problem and Solution
As it stands now, when a smartphone or tablet user wants to connect to a new, secured Wi-Fi network, they have to sign up for service, enter a password, and take other steps. The goal for the upcoming Wi-Fi roaming standard is to allow users to connect to a hotspot using their phone’s SIM card for authentication.
SIM cards are used by phones to identify themselves to wireless carriers. They’re included in all GSM-based phones, and increasingly appear in CDMA-based ones. Many tablets also have SIM cards for connecting to cellular networks.
“The combination of Wi-Fi and mobile technologies extends the power of broadband for consumers,” said Shrikant Shenwai, the CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “The work by the WBA and the GSMA will expedite the availability of a new generation of Internet access for the benefit of consumers everywhere.”
This process has only just begun. There is still much work to be done developing guidelines on security, billing, data offload, device implementation, and network selection.