OpenRoaming, a standard managed by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, promises to take the hassle out of using public wifi hotspots.
The technology, which was originally developed by Cisco, aims to allow a single login for all wifi hotspots using it and seamless switching from one hotspot to another. For some reason this sort of thing has been beyond the combined ingenuity of the telecoms and tech industries to date but its commercial potential is clear. Surely there’s a significant market for public wifi without the maddening complexity and unreliability.
While we’re told OpenRoaming is now available at over a million hotspots around the world, there is apparently still the need for proof-of-concept trials such as this one in Dublin. It only encompassed Bernardo Square, Dame Street and the City Council’s Amphitheatre but such was the claimed success that the WBA and partners Smart Dublin, Virgin Media, and Commscope intend to roll it out to 150 hotspots across the city. No deadline was announced for that phase, however.
“Collaborations like this are key to the delivery of convenient, reliable and ubiquitous connectivity which is critical for achieving our smart city goals such as closing the digital divide and ensuring that government is responsive to the needs of citizens and businesses,” said Jamie Cudden, Smart City Lead for the City of Dublin. “This successful trial of WBA OpenRoaming is a milestone toward achieving all those goals.”
“Wifi is the foundation for smart cities,” said Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the WBA. “This successful proof-of-concept trial shows that that the City of Dublin and its residents, businesses and visitors all can depend on the WBA OpenRoaming standard to ensure that they always have convenient access to seamless, secure, carrier-grade Wifi connectivity.”
The announcement coincides with World Wifi Day, which is also a WBA initiative. There’s nothing more prestigious than having a world day named after you, even if you have to create it yourself. Having said that, US congress has just passed a resolution supporting it, so it’s properly official now. And if having an official day makes public wifi a more satisfactory experience then what’s not to like?