Network convergence drives support for Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming

Wi-Fi 6
(Image credit: Netgear)

The Wireless Broadband Association (WBA) says increased awareness of the importance of network convergence has created strong early support for both Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming.

Converged networks that comprise fixed, cellular, and wireless are believed to be the future of communications, capable of delivering reliable, high speed, and low latency connectivity capable of transforming businesses, public services, and consumer applications.

The creation of the Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming standards are critical in ensuring that Wi-Fi can fulfil its role as a complementary technology to full fibre and 5G infrastructure.

Wi-Fi 6 OpenRoaming

The faster speeds, greater capacity and lower latency of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E will facilitate faster transmission rates between devices and allow macro network technologies to operate at their full potential. Wi-Fi 6 is now ready for carrier grade deployments and will allow operators to offload traffic where appropriate.

Meanwhile, OpenRoaming is a platform of federated Wi-Fi networks that allows users to seamlessly move between hotspots without the need to reconnect or enter security credentials.

With OpenRoaming, compatible devices have their identity verified just once – usually by a mobile operator. There is no need to manually search for Wi-Fi networks or enter passwords. The idea is that using Wi-Fi is as frictionless as 4G or 5G, with users passed between cell sites.

A study commissioned by the WBA found that 79% of telcos, equipment manufacturers, and businesses have adopted or plan to adopt OpenRoaming – just six months after the standard was introduced. Meanwhile, 95% of the communications industry said that Wi-Fi 6 would be important to their business and 67% said convergence would be critical to their future plans.

“There was a time, not so long ago, that when we discussed the potential for Wi-Fi roaming or the convergence of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, we were met with blank stares,” said Tiago Rodrigues, WBA CEO. “Now, it’s the complete opposite. Across the communications industry, we’re seeing excitement building around these trends. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and this reinforces the role of Wi-Fi during the pandemic to keep everyone connected.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.