Intelligently employing small cells & Wi-Fi hotspots is integral to delivering the best possible broadband experience
Wi-Fi Global Congress, San Francisco – 5th November 2012 – The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, and the Small Cell Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports small cell deployment worldwide, today announced they will work together to integrate Wi-Fi hotspots and licensed small cells.
Telecom operators worldwide are increasingly deploying both licensed and unlicensed technologies – in the form of small cells and public Wi-Fi – making this an opportune time to examine how they can be best integrated. By employing both technologies, operators can significantly improve the user experience through dramatically increased network capacity and with advanced traffic management techniques. Furthermore, by integrating the two technologies they can also lower device, infrastructure installation and backhaul costs.
The two organizations will cooperate on a range of initiatives including simple measures such as looking at how small cells could impact the WBA and GSMA’s efforts to simplify Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) access, and sharing best practices for optimizing the user experience and operator deployment strategies for joint Wi-Fi/small cell hotspots. The WBA’s NGH program is already making public Wi-Fi more accessible by removing the need for usernames and passwords. Major operators globally are currently trialling these new hotspots and deployments are expected imminently.
However, more ambitiously, the organisations will also look at how to integrate Wi-Fi and small cells on a network level, instead of simply using Wi-Fi to provide a pipe into the cellular network. This could allow Wi-Fi hotspots to support cellular services such as voice and SMS, as well as enable enhanced integrated services such as advanced traffic management and smart offloading features over the radio interfaces as well as within the backend networks, resulting in the best possible user experience.
JR Wilson, Chairman of the Wireless Broadband Alliance said: “This agreement builds a bridge between the Wi-Fi and cellular worlds. Our two organisations bring together the key fixed, mobile and Wi-Fi operator and vendor players. Furthermore, we both enjoy close relationships with the respective standards bodies – the Wi-Fi Alliance, IEEE and 3GPP. This means we have the clout to turn the vision of integrating Wi-Fi hotspots and small cells into a reality. The NGH program will now encompass the advances that emerge from this new cooperation paving the way for a truly converged future. Customers will benefit from a highly dependable, easy to use, seamless service across many different network technologies.”
Gordon Mansfield, the Small Cell Forum’s Chairman said: “The days of Wi-Fi vs cellular are dead. Both technologies are crucial for supporting the never ending growth in data traffic. In the long term, each technology alone cannot meet this challenge – success can only be achieved by aligning the two. Wi-Fi hotspots are proving a valuable tool for managing surging mobile data traffic. Small cells, which now outnumber macrocells globally, represent the future of cellular as it strives to achieve new levels of coverage and capacity for all mobile devices. By bringing the two together, we can deliver a better experience for all users across all devices.”
The two organisations will begin working together immediately and plan to test technical progress at future Small Cell Forum plugfests and at the Wireless Broadband Alliance NGH trials. Today’s news follows announcements made in Q1 2012 by the Wireless Broadband Alliance regarding its work with the GSMA and the Small Cell Forum’s publication of a whitepaper on the case for intelligently integrating Wi-Fi and small cells.
About the Small Cell Forum
The Small Cell Forum (www.smallcellforum.org), formerly known as the Femto Forum, supports the wide-scale adoption of small cells. Small cells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum, are operator-managed and feature edge-based intelligence. They provide improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for homes and enterprises as well as metropolitan and rural public spaces. They include technologies variously described as femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells. The Forum has in excess of 140 members including 67 operators representing more than 2.92 billion mobile subscribers – 47 per cent of the global total – as well as telecoms hardware and software vendors, content providers and innovative start-ups.
About the Wireless Broadband Alliance
Founded in 2003, the aim of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is to secure an outstanding user experience through the global deployment of next generation Wi-Fi. The WBA and its industry leading members are dedicated to delivering this quality experience through technology innovation, interoperability, and robust security.
Today, membership includes major fixed operators such as BT, Comcast and Time Warner Cable; seven of the top 10 mobile operator groups (by revenue) and leading technology companies such as Cisco, Google and Intel.
WBA member operators collectively serve more than 1 billion subscribers and operate more than 1 million hotspots globally. They also work with international operators to drive innovation, deliver seamless connectivity and optimize network investments. The WBA Board includes AT&T, Boingo Wireless, BT, China Mobile, Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, iPass, KT Corporation, NTT DOCOMO and Orange. www.wballiance.com
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