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A Rainy Day in London Town

By Lisa Garza

It was raining in London last week during the LightReading event Strategic Opportunities in Service Provider Wi-Fi.  That might not sound unusual, but actually my cab driver said it had been a dry winter, and the rain was much needed for his garden.  That’s how I felt about the event – it felt like a lovely spring rain.

Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown first addressed the packed room by likening the early days of Wi-Fi to the Wild West.  With the advent of carrier-grade Wi-Fi, the integration of Wi-Fi into Mobile networks, and initiatives such as the Wireless Broadband Alliance Next Generation Hotspot Program, the west is slowly being tamed.

Cisco Director Jared Headley underscored how we’re taming the west in his keynote highlighting the lessons Cisco has learned over the last several years in deploying Service Provider Wi-Fi networks.  From managing a quality Wi-Fi experience in high density environments to rapid deployments with zero touch provisioning to the myriad of business models made possible by small cells – Jared covered it all in his compelling keynote. Jared concluded his remarks by noting a common sentiment: “I love it when it just works.  That’s the power of Wi-Fi.”

But that was just the beginning.  Cisco Distinguished Engineer Mark Grayson discussed some of the commercial drivers for SP Wi-Fi in his first panel.  Gabriel set the stage with provocative questions to the panel, and Mark provided thoughtful answers on SP Wi-Fi monetization in residential, enterprise and  metro Wi-Fi deployments based on his twelve years of experience tackling the issues.

Mark then addressed the key topic of Wi-Fi and Mobile network integration in his second panel covering the issues of authentication, roaming, integration with the mobile packet core, and Wi-Fi access point association.  In this session Mark makes an important point about devices: “We need to build architectures which can leverage client capabilities whenever they’re available, and to use them to enhance the customer experience, but we should never mandate them otherwise we will end up in the same fate as UMA”.

Wi-Fi is a garden that many of us have been tending for years.  Every garden benefits from a good rain, and this event in London provided that rain.

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