OpenRoaming offers frictionless Wi-Fi connectivity

(Image credit: Shutterstock / NicoElNino)

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has formally launched OpenRoaming, 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.

As telcos invest in fibre and 5G infrastructure, the concept of converged networks that combine fixed, cellular and wireless connectivity is gaining traction. OpenRoaming hopes to simplify the wireless element of the equation and reduce fragmentation.

OpenRoaming network

The advantages of OpenRoaming are myriad, with end users benefitting from faster speeds, a more reliable connection indoors, and lower battery consumption. On the other hand, businesses can enjoy enhanced productivity and rollout new applications - for example, Wi-Fi can be used to provide location services to shoppers seeking a retailer, or to a project team looking for a meeting room.

The technology has been successfully trialled in Orkney by Cisco and has been rolled out commercially in London’s Canary Wharf. Members include firms from across the mobile industry, including AT&T, Boingo, Broadcom, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Google, Intel, Orange, Purple Wi-Fi, and Samsung.

The WBA says business can provide additional value to their existing services or create entirely new commercial business models. It is inviting more operators, venues and other firms to join the consortium.

“Wi-Fi is already arguably the most successful wireless technology of our time, but with these globally agreed standards and policies, we can take public-guest Wi-Fi to another level in terms of ease-of-use and global availability,” said Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the WBA.

“The WBA OpenRoaming creates an open framework for all types of players to join and develop their Wi-Fi services and create new business opportunities. We invite venues, vendors and operator/identity providers to join WBA OpenRoaming and revolutionise Wi-Fi usage around the world.”

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.