AT&T, Verizon Wireless Join Wireless Broadband Alliance

by Gaurav Kheterpal on June 24, 2010

The world may be moving to faster 3G and 4G networks but Wi-Fi still remains an irreplaceable trump card in wireless operators’ strategy to deliver mobile broadband services. The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) was formed in 2003 with the objective of promoting the growth of wireless technologies by building interoperable frameworks which are independent of devices and networks.

Though WBA no longer enjoys the same media attention as it did seven years ago, its member footprint has been increasing steadily over the years. The latest companies to join the WBA this week include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Comcast, Cisco, Devicescape and KT.

The WBA maintains a standard for commercial Wi-Fi roaming around the world. From a customer perspective, it reduces the complexity involved in offering Wi-Fi services on roaming. WBA members exchange customer information to ensure customers enjoy seamless roaming. Therefore, customers can login with their home network’s credentials even while roaming on a different network. The eventual goal of WBA is make signing on to Wi-Fi hot spots easier for customers across other service providers’ networks.

With the two largest carriers in the U.S. now onboard, the WBA now has an impressive member listing with several technology heavyweights pitching for its cause. It also reflects the ever-growing importance of Wi-Fi to carriers and a keen interest in Wi-Fi hotspots as a way to reduce the burden on their 3G networks. AT&T has already shunned its unlimited data plans and Verizon intends to follow suit pretty soon. With data usage growing rapidly on devices such as the iPad and iPhone 4, wireless operators are now looking at Wi-Fi as an alternative option to meet the growing bandwidth demands.

AT&T has always been a great advocate for promoting Wi-Fi, partly because its 3G network is woeful. The carrier has been making a major push toward getting consumers to use its 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots more. In contrast, Verizon doesn’t really have a great track record when it comes to Wi-Fi. In fact, the carrier used to block Wi-Fi connectivity on its phones till 2009. With a new version of the iPhone due to arrive shortly on the Verizon network, I guess it’s a classical case of “Me too!” as far as WBA membership is concerned.

IMO, Wi-Fi still offers massive untapped potential. It is by far the most widely available wireless technology – nearly all netbooks and laptops offer Wi-Fi and most smartphones have built-in Wi-Fi. Many carriers believe that Wi-Fi is a thing of the past because of interoperability issues and fluctuating bandwidths. WBA has been working on addressing these issues since the last several years and I’m hoping that they come up with a concrete solution sooner than later.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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AT&T, Verizon Wireless Join Wireless Broadband Alliance … | The Verizon Zone
June 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

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