The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) intends to take over ownership and management of OpenRoaming as a global wireless industry standard.
Right now it’s a technology owned by Cisco and offered to its customers, presumably for a price, but it looks like Cisco has decided it can’t be bothered with the hassle anymore. OpenRoaming is designed to provide a network of wifi hotspots that present a single identity for the purpose of access. In other words, if it becomes ubiquitous then the days of having to muck around with awkward passwords and clunky login pages would be over.
The stated aim of the WBA is to enable collaboration between service providers, technology companies and organizations to make the global wifi experience as seamless as possible, so this seems like a perfect fit. The aim will be to get as many wifi ecosystem stakeholders to buy into this technology in order to improve the global experience.
“OpenRoaming now becomes an open standard, creating a world where wifi users will be able to move seamlessly from one wifi network to another without re-registering or signing in,” said WBA CEO, Tiago Rodrigues. “As a global wireless industry standard, WBA OpenRoaming will improve wifi services and availability, making life easier for users, and more efficient for the global mobile and wifi ecosystem.
“OpenRoaming is now open for business and I call on anyone with a wifi network, private or public, coffee shop or sports stadia or any other type of venue, to join our open ecosystem in order for the service they offer to their users to be automatic, secure, and interoperable, making their networks available to a wider audience.”
“There is considerable pull from the industry and our customers, both enterprise and service provider, to automate secure onboarding across multiple verticals,” said Matt MacPherson, Wireless CTO at Cisco. “We knew OpenRoaming would be a game-changing wireless technology, but the support from across the industry has even surpassed our expectations. OpenRoaming is vital to unlocking the potential of wireless communications. Cisco has been proud to lead the OpenRoaming efforts, but we believe strongly that the WBA is the right organization to steward, with neutrality and confidence, such an important industry initiative.”
Improved wifi user experience is long overdue. It doesn’t feel like it has evolved for decades and it’s an ongoing scandal that even telecoms events often fail to provide public wifi that can cope with more than a couple of people on it. We don’t know whether OpenRoaming is the answer, and even if it is it won’t solve the clunky interface problem by itself, but it does seem like a step in the right direction.