One global network of Wi-Fi networks based on the Open Roaming architecture and business model

Klaus Samardžić

The importance and value of a communication network depends on the number and quality of communication services offered and the area in which the services are accessible to users. Most technologies for building communication networks have made their way from offering services in a specific area limited by signal parameters or communication protocols and standards to global accessibility. Wi-Fi technology is no exception. Today, more than two-thirds of user data traffic is transmitted over Wi-Fi access networks. Nevertheless, Wi-Fi is synonymous with WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network). Hotspot 2.0 technology has provided the technological basis for the most significant step in offering communication services over Wi-Fi access networks. In May 2020 Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) launched OpenRoaming. Based on Hotspot 2.0 technology, the OpenRoaming is an architecture and business model for the provisioning of communication services through a global network (WGAN - Wireless Global Area Network) of Wi-Fi networks. The very importance of the realization of such a network depends on the quality of offered communication services, which is provided by the introduction of the IEEE 802.11 ax (Wi-Fi 6) standard. Wi-Fi 6 uses an advanced way of multiplexing signals OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) and antennas with MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) functionality. This allows the user to experience the quality of service QoE (Quality of Experience) as used to from the 4G or 5G mobile networks. The efficient provision of communication services achieved through the implementation of these technologies is described. OpenRoaming provides a way to seamlessly and secure offer services globally between Wi-Fi networks owned by different organisations. Architecture of such a global network consisting of local Wi-Fi networks and the implemented protocols are described. The role of ANP (Access Network Provider) and IDP (Identity Provider) in the WBA (Wireless Broadband Alliance) OpenRoaming Federation is explained. The presented material addresses the question of whether the existing Wi-Fi networks used in different organization can offer services in accordance with the OpenRoaming business model and for which role in the WBA (Wireless Broadband Alliance) OpenRoaming Federation the organisation should apply.