WBA wants everyone to use its WRIX spec for IoT roaming

IoT roaming interoperability
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The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published its latest white paper that calls for use of the group’s WRIX specification to address interoperability challenges.

The paper investigates how existing Wi-Fi roaming capabilities could help the IoT market with the evolution of IoT device roaming, ensuring devices can seamlessly ‘talk’ to each other.

The aim of the study is to provide a framework for IoT roaming, demonstrating the value and opportunities to enhance the functionality for existing technologies with the use of the WBA’s Wireless Roaming Intermediary eXchange (WRIX) specification in areas such as authentication, financial and data clearing, invoicing, security and automation.

The WBA says the cellular Wi-Fi ecosystem it has been building over the last decade now leverages more frictionless business opportunities, and IoT players may benefit from such similar opportunities and avoid inefficient “islands of connectivity”.

While IoT roaming is being accomplished today on different types of networks such as cellular and Wi-Fi, the diversity of devices and the exponential growth in the market – over 20 billion IoT devices forecast by 2020 – means there is a distinct need for interoperability to allow the cross network roaming of devices. The white paper addresses the need to find a dynamic way for devices to search for a computable network and automatically roam at scale without intervention. It focuses on the common requirements to enable IoT devices to connect to a non-home access network, successfully authenticate, enable accounting and facilitate subsequent billing while taking into consideration potential security and scalability concerns.

The study outlines how WRIX – as a modularized set of specifications to facilitate roaming between operators – can be used across the IoT market for lessons learned, best practices and standards when developing each technology’s roaming specifications. Using the WRIX specification as a guideline for roaming, organizations can prepare their networks to facilitate simple, seamless and secure IoT connectivity for their users, the WBA says.

The report highlights several areas where WRIX could be used or enhanced to address the immediate challenge of massive scalability. These include:

  • Adding RADSEC capabilities to the WRIX framework to enhance the security of IoT applications and enable automatic security for new deployment scenarios
  • Using the WRIX framework as best practice to address the issue of identity and authentication between security domains
  • Expanding the current WRIX definitions and specifications to include LoRa Alliance and MulteFire Alliance roaming support, to allow other IoT use cases to be supported
  • Outlining collaboration opportunities for IoT technology that was built from the ground up, and therefore, involves a specific assessment on interwork possibilities.

“Cross-network device roaming is becoming increasingly important to fulfil the vast scalability requirements of the IoT. Yet deploying IoT roaming services is no easy feat, and the process will take several years,” said Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA. “The industry must work together, which is why the WBA is advocating the use of WRIX to provide industry-wide standards for service providers. Having identified several areas where the framework can be enhanced, the WBA is now working to evolve WRIX to increase its capabilities, longevity, and industry value to support IoT roaming use cases.”

The new framework will be trialed by the WBA and its members, using the experience acquired with previous end-to-end interoperability trials such as Next Generation Hotspot (NGH). The WBA is also in discussions with industry alliances including the LoRa Alliance, the MulteFire Alliance, and Eduroam regarding the development of a roaming framework for specific IoT technologies similar to the WRIX approach for Wi-Fi roaming.

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