The joint initiative's goal is to create the technical and commercial framework for Wi-Fi roaming that will give mobile users a more streamlined and consistent connection to the Internet.
"The proliferation of smartphones and tablets around the world, as well as consumers' huge appetite for data means innovative solutions need to be explored to make using the Internet as convenient and as accessible as possible," said Dan Warren, senior director of technology at the GSMA. "Through combining the proven capabilities of Mobile Broadband and Wi-Fi technologies, users will have the freedom to move between networks with ease."
While Wi-Fi is a common feature of smartphones and tablets, the joint mobile initiative wants to simplify if not eliminate the hassles users often face of device configuration, the use of access keys and the various steps involved to acquire and pay for connectivity while on the road. The Wi-Fi roaming plan would require a SIM card for authentication and Wi-Fi connectivity and let mobile operators uniquely and securely identify users whether they are on a mobile or Wi-Fi network.
"The work by the WBA and the GSMA will expedite the availability of a new generation of Internet access for the benefit of consumers everywhere,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA. “Key to this is Wi-Fi being able to replicate the success of mobile technology and allow users to roam seamlessly between different networks."
Wi-Fi roaming will be based on the WBA's 'Next Generation Hotspot' program and the Wi-Fi Alliance's 'Passpoint certification' technology. It will also build on the GSMA's widely used roaming principles.