WBA promises new monetisation opportunities with OpenRoaming Release 2

Trade association members drive launch of new standard for wireless networking, now including Orion Wi-Fi from Google’s Area 120, the first full deployment compliant with the standard

Hot on the heels of the first version of its technology being integrated in the Telecom Infra Project OpenWiFi, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has announced the launch of WBA OpenRoaming Release 2 to enable network and service providers, including mobile network operators (MNOs), cable operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to offer enhanced quality of experience (QoE) to their subscribers.

First announced in May 2021 and commercially deployed two months later, OpenRoaming was developed as a global solution based on a common set of standards to bridge the gap between cellular and Wi-Fi, offering users frictionless connectivity as users roam between guest Wi-Fi networks and public Wi-Fi hotspots. It is designed to combine the convenience of mobile roaming with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, allowing devices to connect securely and automatically to Wi-Fi networks and roam seamlessly from one hotspot to another without the user needing to log in.

It is built on a set of standards and guidelines developed by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the Wi-Fi Alliance, and will now be adopted as an industry-wide initiative, led by the WBA. The standard is said to have seen tremendous growth in the past year and is expected to play a crucial role in delivering great mobile experiences and ushering in a new era of mobile applications.

OpenRoaming is supported by companies such as AT&T, Cisco, Comcast, CommScope, Deutsche Telekom, Google and Samsung, among others. One of OpenRoaming’s key promised benefits is that it can free users from the need to constantly re-register or re-enter log-in credentials, allowing what the WBA said was “seamless and instant” network access, enterprise-grade security and a carrier-grade Wi-Fi experience across multiple locations. 

In the latest release, WBA said it has accelerated the definition, development and scope of its global Wi-Fi Federation, which aims to expand the Wi-Fi roaming ecosystem, promote global connectivity, solve secure auto-onboarding and create new opportunities for operators and venues to commercialise their networks. The release also includes service enhancements for network service providers and operators, allowing them to, claimed the WBA, guarantee their subscribers a defined, high-quality experience when using the OpenRoaming network.

To bridge the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular coverage, MNOs, venues and other service providers, the new release is engineered to deliver a defined, high-quality experience when their subscribers use OpenRoaming. Release 2 also includes a federation-backed “silver” tier that guarantees an “HD video streaming experience” with a downlink rate of at least 5Mbps and end-to-end latency of less than 150ms. Silver-tier service is already available across 95% of the OpenRoaming ecosystem.

Release 2 employs the WBA Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange (WRIX-N) standard, which allows operators and other service providers to agree on the parameters for payment, sanctioning access based on the name of the operator, the service offered, the location and the agreed cost. Release 2 also provides the ability to move beyond bi-lateral roaming agreements and set up multilateral agreements on their own financial terms supported by OpenRoaming Federation terms and conditions.

OpenRoaming Release 2 also contains new defined commercial roaming templates that are claimed to make it easier for Wi-Fi network operators to secure new revenue streams through updates to commercial roaming, giving them the ability to scale roaming relationships quickly and efficiently. Orion Wifi, a platform from Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator, is the first to deploy OpenRoaming release 2.

Orion Wifi lets public venues – stores, office buildings, stadiums and other locations – sell Wi-Fi capacity to cellular carriers, making it easier for venues with high-quality Wi-Fi to collaborate with cellular carriers. “The future of telecoms will require sophisticated heterogeneous networks. OpenRoaming Release 2, which powers Orion Wifi, is a huge step to unlock that future,” said Orion Wifi director Raj Gajwani.

“Our goal has always been to provide users with a secure and frictionless public Wi-Fi experience as part of our broader mission to connect the world. To make this happen, we’re working to attract businesses from across the ecosystem, by ensuring that the standard delivers commercial benefits for vendors, operators and retailers,” said WBA CEO Tiago Rodrigues.

“Release 2 is one more step on that journey, and we encourage players from every part of the Wi-Fi ecosystemt to join this movement and become part of the bright future we envision for OpenRoaming – One Global Wi-Fi Network.”

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