The mobile industry's representative body, the GSM Association, is working with its Wi-Fi industry counterpart to allow users to automatically move between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The GSM Association and Wireless Broadband Alliance have joined forces to make it possible for smartphone and tablet users to roam between the two technologies more easily.
The GSMA and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) said on Tuesday
that the joint initiative would "bring together the benefits of mobile
technology and Wi-Fi networks for the first time", largely in the hope
of spreading the load when it comes to ever-increasing mobile data
"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," GSMA technology director Dan Warren said in a
The WBA and the Wi-Fi Alliance, another wireless industry body, had
together for the Next Generation Hotspot programme, an attempt to
create new standards for roaming between Wi-Fi networks. The GSMA
tie-in builds on that work, adding mobile broadband technologies such
as 3G to the mix.
According to the joint release, the Wi-Fi roaming initiative has
already "identified and agreed to the basis for a common approach
to authenticating mobile devices on Wi-Fi hotspots, automatically and
Now the mobile and Wi-Fi bodies have to find a way to make their
security and billing systems work together, while also getting
manufacturers to design the new approach into their phones and
This is not the first time that 'seamless' roaming between mobile
broadband and Wi-Fi has been attempted. The WBA released
Wireless ISP roaming (WISPr) specifications in 2010 for that very
purpose, but little has been heard of WISPr since its trials took
GSMA's technology chief Dan Warren told ZDNet UK on
Wednesday that "the problem was that a lot of stuff within WISPr was
not particularly rigorous, so it wasn't broadly adopted in a
"We're cognisant of the fact that people are using smartphones on
Wi-Fi a lot more than previous devices were, but from the GSMA side
we also hope able to apply a more consistent and rigorous approach,"
Warren said. "The work we've done so far has taken in a lot of input
including the WISPr work."
Warren said technical work and contract-writing would take around
nine months and "we'll probably see live capabilities in 12-18 months'
time", although wide adoption would take a little longer.
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