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23 global operators back worldwide wifi roaming plans

Wifi 2

23 global operators have joined forces to work on providing free international public wifi roaming in cities around the world.

The City Wi-Fi Roaming Project, launched by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, has begun by bringing integrated public wifi roaming to New York, Barcelona, Dublin, Singapore, San Francisco and San Jose, at first. Wifi subscribers from a range of international operators are eligible to sign up to benefit from wireless internet access in cities across the world. The WBA says the initiative allows consumers and visitors to the aforementioned cities to automatically and securely roam between public wifi networks throughout August.

There’s something to be said about the level of backing the scheme has received to date; as well as authorities for the major cities participating in the scheme, some of the world’s biggest operators are participating as well. These include, but are not limited to, AT&T, BT, China Mobile, KT, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, HKT, SK Telecom, Sprint, Swisscom, Telecom New Zealand, Telstra, Telus and T-Mobile USA.

The WBA says the service is based on the Next Generation Hotspot 2.0 specifications, a certification programme which aims to enable more sophisticated connectivity for mobile devices in wifi hotspots. At the time of launch, the Alliance claimed the new, improved Hotspot 2.0 (also known as Passpoint) will now deliver a more streamlined method of creating new user accounts and connecting wifi-only devices to public wifi hotspots.

“Connectivity continues to transform and improve the way we live in the world,” the CIO of San Francisco, Miguel Gamino. “The roaming partnership is San Francisco’s contribution to our communal goal of making it easier for people to connect to Wi-Fi wherever they are around the globe. Our hope is that more cities will join.”

As Gamino hoped, other cities are joining the cause, with New York being one.

“Connected Cities have the power to improve life for citizens and develop our nations,” said Deputy Commissioner for Telecommunications Planning at NYC, Alphonso Jenkins. “It is for this reason that the City of New York is making connectivity a priority and supporting the City Wi-Fi Roaming project as we truly appreciate the profound significance that wireless connectivity plays within our communities.”

Exclusively speaking to Telecoms.com, Mary Clark, the CMO of Syniverse, explained how initiatives such as this will eventually lead to the constantly connected, and monetiseable world telcos dream of.

“The initiative itself is something I really think is valuable for bringing the need for ubiquitous coverage to the fore, both in building and externally,” she said. “The constant demand and incredible consumption of data is right at the top of everyone’s list. Wifi connectivity itself is almost reaching the same level of importance as breathing, and is something a lot of people take for granted.

“This particular initiative reinforces the importance of wifi to the entire telecoms ecosystem; every time we have a loss of connectivity it reinforces the sort of behaviour we want consumers to have and the constant need for wireless signal. This sort of initiative really helps bring attention to the fact that it is a critical need we have to expand upon. As we blur the lines between licensed and unlicensed spectrum there’s so much possibility for how to service the consumer. The faster we embrace that and look at building on this constant consumption, we’ll get to the point where demand will be constantly present, but we’ll get building on the ecosystem.

“This is where the next revenue stream is going to come from, and we’re really getting there. Bringing that message home to cities delivering on the vision of a connected life shows that this is a very worthwhile step in promoting the message of World Wi-fi Day.”


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