Wireless Broadband Alliance Unveils Carrier Wireless Service Certification program

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The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has launched the Carrier Wireless Service Certification (CWSC) program, allowing carriers and vendors to independently test and certify devices, initially, for Wi-Fi Roaming and Wi-Fi Offload.

The program will simulate end customer usability in a real network environment to ensure that devices are ready for worldwide commercial deployments, reducing customer support time for carriers and time to market for vendors.

Participants in the program include AT&T, Boingo, Shaw Communications, HPE-Aruba, Cisco, Ruckus, together with the Authorized Test Labs of Dekra, Kyrio and UL.

CWSC is the output of the WBA’s multi-operator Next-Generation Hotspot (NGH) trial program, which has been running since 2011 in collaboration with the WBA and its Members. A total of 20 vendors and 50 operators have participated in the end-to-end trial, simulating carrier services with real life scenarios, credentials and devices. Through the commercial launch of the CWSC program the WBA aims to foster worldwide commercial deployments and solve a number of business issues:

· Operators: As the number of devices purchased from sources other than the mobile operator proliferates, carriers’ established in-house testing methods are no longer enough. CWSC allows carriers to test Wi-Fi services from end-to-end (provisioning and billing) against different equipment and credentials. This removes issues prior to commercial release, ensuring a better customer experience.

· Vendors can avoid endless testing with different carriers, instead testing multiple devices across multiple carrier networks, gaining time to market. Vendors can also gain interoperability Certification to validate carrier’s requirements in order to facilitate sales, and save testing resources.

· Consumers: The certification program serves to identify any issues with device interoperability ahead of its launch onto the network, removing the risk of customer dissatisfaction and guaranteeing a consistent user experience.

The CWSC program will initially focus on Wi-Fi Offload and Wi-Fi Roaming carrier services. Going forward, the WBA will introduce new services such as NGH In-line Provisioning (secure SSID), Policy Interworking (ANDSF & HS2.0), Quality of Service (end-to-end), Wi-Fi Calling and 5G Interoperability (Unlicensed integration).

“As Chairman, I am proud of the WBA as the trade organization uniquely positioned to bring all the diverse players to the table to create a Wi-Fi roaming testing platform with a focus on end customer usability. The CWSC was born out of the many successful trials and demos the WBA organized bringing all the industry players together in real world settings,” said JR Wilson, Chairman of the WBA and AT&T Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships. “The CWSC continues the WBA’s commitment to develop and grow the Wi-Fi ecosystem and adds to our Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) program, which features end-to-end testing of Hotspot 2.0.”

In its development phases, AT&T and other WBA Member partners made Hotspot2.0 (HS2.0) an integral part of their strategy due to its ability to enable new Wi-Fi services. AT&T sees HS2.0 as critical in the development of its Wi-Fi network. In January 2015, AT&T started rolling out HS2.0 across its existing Wi-Fi network, and going forward new network buildouts will be HS2.0 capable.

“There are literally thousands of types of wireless devices out there and over the past 6 years, we have bought the entire ecosystem together with the aim of bolstering the expansion of NGH in the wireless ecosystem. It’s become clear from our trial that a gap exists in end-to-end interoperability and service delivery for services such as Wi-Fi Roaming and Wi-Fi Offload, and it is our hope that the CSWC program will provide a concrete step in delivering a more robust right first time service experience,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “Certification will allow carriers to deliver services that work properly in both their network and that of their partners, while avoiding endless testing for vendors. It will also ensure that barriers to Wi-Fi are eliminated, improving customer experience.”

“Aruba is a strong supporter of the CWSC certification and we are proud to be one of the first infrastructure vendors to participate in this important program. We agree that Wi-Fi roaming should be a uniform, easy experience for consumers; the CWSC program represents a significant step forward towards that goal,” said Peter Thornycroft, Distinguished Engineer for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

“Convergence is the future for wireless connectivity where the coexistence of licensed and unlicensed technologies will anchor a new generation of innovation,” said Dr. Derek Peterson, WBA board member and CTO at Boingo Wireless. “NGH technology has been critical to helping us realize seamless interoperability between LTE and Wi-Fi and this new certification will greatly expand deployments around the world. Boingo is a proud participant of the beta program and we look forward to pioneering a new chapter in wireless.”

“The Carrier Wireless Services Certification program is a major step forward for the WBA and the industry, giving service providers an easy to understand designation for end-to-end capabilities to support Wi-Fi roaming, offload and hotspot provisioning technologies,” said Steve Martin, WBA Board Member and Chief Technology Officer, Ruckus. “Ruckus is very pleased to be part of the WBA’s efforts to ensure broad adoption of these methods to bring Wi-Fi further into the mainstream of carrier and service provider networks and to further the discussion of the next generation of hotspot and Wi-Fi roaming capabilities, including 5G.”