Belgium completes trials with new WiFi roaming standard

Sheila Zabeu -

April 08, 2022

Recent trials of the WBA OpenRoaming deployment, a Wi-Fi roaming standard that frees users from registering or re-entering login credentials, have been successfully completed in several municipalities in Belgium, ensuring more convenient access to public networks while maintaining data security and privacy.

The tests were carried out by members of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the body responsible for the new standard, aiming to prepare it for adoption across Europe. The tests included evaluation of viability and compatibility with iOS and Android smartphones, laptops and tablets. Equipment from various WiFi access point manufacturers was used, as well as Identity Provider Services (IdP) and different connection methods. The aim was to assess the availability of seamless roaming between WiFi networks in the participating municipalities.

In addition to providing fast and secure access to wireless networks, another important feature of OpenRoaming is the ability to guarantee user privacy even on public WiFi networks – ensuring compliance with European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policies – without being affected by changing MAC addresses on devices.

“This pilot test with a group of municipalities in Belgium used more common consumer equipment such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and used WiFi networks from different manufacturers, validating the benefit of using the WBA OpenRoaming standard to make life easier for consumers, visitors and residents. Furthermore, the new standard creates new and valuable business opportunities for operators, retailers or events that want to develop Wi-Fi services,” says Tiago Rodrigues, WBA CEO.

For Matt MacPherson, director of wireless technologies at Cisco, reducing digital gaps by relying on public WiFi networks in cities is more important today. “OpenRoaming can play an important role in ensuring easy and secure access to relevant digital resources. It is a perfect resource as it breaks down access barriers and ensures extracting more value from networks. Public Wi-Fi via OpenRoaming opens up exciting new opportunities for any municipality,” he adds.

O conselho diretivo da WBA inclui Airties, AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Broadcom, BT, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom AG, GlobalReach Technology, Google, Intel, Reliance Jio, SK Telecom e Viasat.

More details

WBA OpenRoaming is a roaming federation service with a connectivity framework consisting of the following elements:

  • A federation of networks and identity providers that enables automatic roaming and user integration over WiFi networks. It is based on the WBA’s Wireless Roaming Intermediary eXchange (WRIX) standards that enable different business models under an integrated framework.
  • Cybersecurity features that enable simple, secure and scalable WiFi connections across different organizations. Enable automatic and secure roaming between millions of networks, nationally and globally, with secure interconnection and encrypted communication.
  • Network automation with an automated roaming consortium code structure (RCOI) compatible with device and network policies.
Source: WBA

OpenRoaming brings together a federation of networks and identity providers so that users can join any network managed by a federation member. Companies adopting the standard will ensure that their WiFi networks automatically interoperate with each other to provide an automatically connected and secure experience.

In WBA’s view, this experience can open up opportunities for broadband connectivity and between Internet of Things (IoT) devices in various business verticals such as retail, hospitality, education, smart cities, automotive and aviation sectors.