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The Wi-Fi World Comes to San Francisco

I recently had the honor to speak at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Francisco. One thing is certain: Wi-Fi’s importance and industry relevance continues. While not quite the same order of magnitude as the Mobile World Congress, the event attracted 350 people, a tenfold increase since the last time the Wi-Fi Broadband Alliance (WBA) visited San Francisco. The WBA now has 95 corporate members, reflecting a member base that has doubled over the last 12 months. The membership includes a mix of leading Wi-Fi, mobile, and broadband network operators; global service providers and media players; as well as technology providers and partners.

Stuart Taylor (middle) shares his insights during the Developing and Monetizing Your Network Through Partnerships panel.

I took away five key messages from the conference: Read More »

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WiFi Momentum Continues — WBA Holds Global Summit

Just concluding today is the WiFi Global Summit in San Francisco, hosted by the Wireless Broadband Alliance.

Billed as the world’s largest carrier-grade WiFi event, the Summit was very successful.  More than 400 people attended; all the sessions were well attended, with many of them packed; and feedback was positive. 

Attendees included industry analysts, media, leading telcos, Wi-Fi and cable operators, roaming hub providers and vendors.  The attendance and feedback underscored the growing importance and visibility of WiFi from both the service provider and enterprise perspectives.

Cisco’s Kelly Ahuja delivered one of the keynotes, and other Cisco people participated.

Also exciting from our perspective was that Cisco won two awards, and a key partner – BT – earned one.

Cisco, with its partner operator True (Thailand) won for:

  • Best Next-Generation Hotspot (NGH) Initiative Award

Cisco also won for:

  • Best Wi-Fi Technology Innovation Award (vendors) . . . for the Cisco Aironet 3600 Next-Generation Design

BT won for Most Innovative Hotspot Venue, as the operator ensured that the whole of London was connected during the 2012 Olympic Games.   The BT system is based significantly on Cisco solutions.

Much more to come from Cisco on the WiFi front . .

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Revving for the Mobility Race

A few days before Mobile World Congress, the world’s elite Formula 1 teams tested their cars and skills at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. F-1 racing is a thrilling blend of courage, precision, technology, and teamwork: the same things service providers use to compete in the race to deploy seamless, profitable mobility services.

This year was my first time at Mobile World Congress, and I got a rush from it as if I were driving an F-1. Cisco CEO John Chambers set the pace for the event, saying, “We are now entering the post-macrocell era, where small cells also will play a critical role in delivering the next generation mobile Internet.”

As part of this shift, Cisco extends its M.O.VE reference architecture for service provider mobility with two major announcements at the show. We announced the industry’s first standards-based small cell solution, providing coverage and capacity solutions built off Wi-Fi and Femto technologies.  Read More »

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The State of Wi-Fi

By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Mobility Marketing Manager

Anyone involved in burgeoning Wi-Fi hotspot network industry realizes that there has been a dearth of solid market information available.  Well, that all changed this week as the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) released a joint report with Informa Global Developments in Public Wi-Fi at their 20th Roundtable and Conference in Singapore.

Check out this WBA report on Global Developments in Public Wi-Fi. To view the complete report, please click here:

The research shows that almost half (47%) of mobile operators now think Wi-Fi is either very important or essential to their customers’ experience. The research also found that operators are planning a massive increase in Wi-Fi hotspot deployments – hotspots are set to rocket with a 350% increase by 2015.

The report confirms the Cisco VNI numbers, showing that mobile data is continuing its massive growth across the globe.  The WBA Public Wi-Fi report predicts that mobile data traffic will hit 16.84 million terabytes by 2014. Operators are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi as a trusted extension to both fixed and mobile networks for offering their customers a seamless Internet experience.

And the report underscores the importance of the Next Generation Hotspot work that the WBA has underway.  The report includes an industry survey that highlights seamless authentication, ease of network discovery and security as the most significant barriers to wider adoption of Wi-Fi.  In June I wrote a blog about the WBA launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials. This week, at the WBA 20th Conference in Singapore, we learned that the trials are well underway and are scheduled to complete on time.  In fact, Shaw Communications recently announced plans to deploy Next Generation Hotspot in a trial, using Cisco’s Service Provider Wi-Fi solution.

Stay tuned to this space.  The WBA intends to release this Wi-Fi Industry report on a regular basis, and 2012 promises to be the year where we’ll see these barriers fall.

Meanwhile, for those of you curious to learn more about the following, check out this webcast on What is WBA Next Generation Hotspot Anyway?:

  • The future of Service Provider Wi-Fi networks
  • WFA Hotspot 2.0 Specification
  • WBA Next Generation Roaming Trials
  • How Hotspot 2.0 will open up new revenue opportunities for service providers


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From Paris with Roaming 2.0 at the Wireless Broadband Alliance

Contributed By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Marketing, Mobility Solutions

Paris WBAOn the edge of Paris this week, a group of Wi-Fi experts gathered for a historic occasion - one they’ll be able to tell their grandchildren about.

It was the 19th Roundtable Conference of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

The occasion was the launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials.  These trials will set the stage for the future of Wi-Fi, establishing it as a robust, secure technology that will augment and complement 3G and 4G networks for years to come.

Next Generation Hotspot is based on the concept that Wi-Fi networks should be as safe and easy to access as cellular networks.  Some of the base specifications for network discovery (IEEE 802.11u), authentication (IEEE 802.1x), and security (IEEE 802.11i) were well underway.  The cellular example of using SIM cards for user identification and using roaming hubs for inter-carrier negotiation and billing were then applied and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) specification for Hotspot 2.0 was a result.

The trials also represent a historic cooperation between the WBA, WFA, and GSMA.  The WFA will hold a series of test events that will allow vendors to test and certify against the specification, and the WBA will carry out the trials in operator networks.  Twenty-seven operators, vendors and roaming hubs have signed up for the trials. The trial results will be provided to the GSMA for harmonization with 3GPP standards.

Read More »

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