Wireless Broadband Alliance Launches WiFi Roaming Project

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The Wireless Broadband Alliance's City WiFi Roaming project aims to provide public WiFi users in cities around the globe with the ability to roam between different public wireless networks. Some of the host cities that are part of this public, private partnership include New York, San Francisco, and San Jose.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance announced the launch of the City WiFi Roaming project, part of an initiative to accelerate affordable wireless connectivity around the world.

The initiative allows residents and visitors of major cities, including New York, San Francisco, San Jose, and Singapore, to automatically and securely roam between public WiFi networks throughout August and September.

The free seamless WiFi roaming service is based on Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) Passpoint Technology based on Hotspot 2.0 specifications, with the backing of the Connected City Advisory Board (CCAB).

There are more than 1,000 hotspots in total, with 228 in downtown San Francisco; 500 across San Jose at San Jose airport, downtown, and at the Congress Centre; 200 LinkNYC Kiosks in New York; and 290 on selected MRT stations and Sentosa Island in Singapore.

Roaming hubs are provided by Accuris Networks, BSG Wireless, and Syniverse. A captive portal plus WiFi AAA and Hotspot 2.0 online signup server (OSU) solutions platform are provided by GlobalReach.

"The City Roaming project was developed as part of World WiFi Day, in conjunction with the CCAB," Tiago Rodrigues, senior director for membership services for the Wireless Broadband Alliance, wrote in an email interview with InformationWeek.

"In order to give citizens internet access, a group of major cities developed WiFi interoperability and roaming to enable seamless and secure WiFi experiences between these cities."

The Alliance is supported by more than 135 names in the telecoms industry, including operators and technology companies such as AT&T, BT, Cisco, Comcast, Google, Intel, Liberty Global, and Orange.

"As more and more citizens embrace connected devices, offering WiFi in cities becomes a must, rather than a nice-to-have," Rodrigues wrote. "Cities are seeing WiFi as a way to improve the delivery of city services, productivity, and an extra reason for people to use public services like transport."

Rodrigues explained WiFi is the best technology to support this, since it offers a reliable and cost-effective alternative to licensed spectrum, because it is widely available and easy to deploy.

The CCAB is made up of cities around the world that are spearheading the smart city initiative and seeking to maximize the opportunities of WiFi.

Rodrigues explained New York, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Francisco in particular are all excellent examples of successful connected cities utilizing WiFi.

"However, as a group, all of the CCAB members are leading the way through knowledge-sharing, establishing best practice and putting in place a strategy to leverage public-private partnerships," he noted.

"It is currently developing a connected city blueprint to help cities and governments develop their strategies towards universal connectivity. The CCAB is well positioned to take on this key role and to set out the smart city roadmap for cities and governments from all over the world."

The announcement comes as more and more cities are working on their own public wireless networks. New York, London, and Berlin are among the major metropolises offering free WiFi in popular public areas and in their respective subway systems.

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