WBA launches certification scheme to speed up rollout of new products, services

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The Wireless Broadband Alliance has launched a new certification programme to help operators and vendors test and certify devices for Wi-Fi roaming and Wi-Fi offload.

The Alliance is hoping its Carrier Wireless Service Certification (CWSC) project will help improve the production of devices ready for global deployment, reduce customer support times and time to market. Among the initial members of the project are AT&T, Boingo, Shaw Communications, HPE-Aruba, Cisco and Ruckus.

The Alliance said the project would provide a means for operators to hold end-to-end testing of Wi-Fi services against a range of different equipment, increasing the range of devices it can choose from and potentially removing issues before a new Wi-Fi network is launched.

Another advantage is certification removes the need for testing a product on a CWSC member's network, speeding up how long it takes to launch a new solution to market.

The Alliance added that consumers can benefit from any device interoperability issues being removed ahead of a product's commercial availability, which potentially increases customer satisfaction.

CWSC comes from the WBA's Next-Generation Hotspot (NGH) trial programme, where 20 vendors and 50 operators have been holding real-life simulations of carrier deployments.

[Read more: Wi-Fi Alliance targets high-density networks with upgrades to Vantage certification]

The Alliance said after focusing on offload and roaming, it will turn its attention to secure SSID, policy interworking, end-to-end quality of service, Wi-Fi calling and interoperability with future 5G networks.

It released research last month claiming that Wi-Fi will play an important role in underpinning 5G networks.

Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said: “There are literally thousands of types of wireless devices out there and over the past six years, we have bought the entire ecosystem together with the aim of bolstering the expansion of NGH in the wireless ecosystem.

"It’s become clear from our trial that a gap exists in end-to-end interoperability and service delivery for services such as Wi-Fi Roaming and Wi-Fi Offload, and it is our hope that the CSWC programme will provide a concrete step in delivering a more robust right first time service experience.

“Certification will allow carriers to deliver services that work properly in both their network and that of their partners, while avoiding endless testing for vendors. It will also ensure that barriers to Wi-Fi are eliminated, improving customer experience.”