On November 15th during Wireless Global Congress by Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) in San Jose, Orange, one of the largest operators of mobile and internet services in Europe and Africa, held a live demo on carrier-grade Wi-Fi roaming. Orange’s overarching goal was to show the value of providing a secure and consistent user experience regardless of the underlying access technology. In an “all-you-can-eat” future, as the operator calls it, Wi-Fi roaming must be very cost-efficient to deploy and operate, something more easily achieved with Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) than traditional architectures.
Orange presented the demo in the WBA Innovation Lounge, as well as in the Affirmed Networks show exhibit. Key network elements and partners participating in the demo included Affirmed Networks (vTWAG), Accuris (AAA), Boingo (Wi-Fi hotspot), HPE (vHSS) and Cavium (4G eNodeB). The joint solution was designed to show the call flow for seamless sign-on of typical roaming users. As the Orange team showed, subscribers traveling with their mobile devices are able to seamlessly roam by connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots with SIM based authentication.
Subscribers, without requiring additional applications or sign-on, were able to seamlessly connect to the Wi-Fi network of Boingo Wireless, which handed over the subscriber traffic to Orange IPX through Affirmed trusted WIFI gateway TWAG. The traffic was then routed to the subscriber’s home mobile network operator (MNO). The radio access and Wi-Fi access point were installed at the WBA event, while the Affirmed TWAG, vEPC, and other elements were located in Orange’s lab in San Francisco. The demo was deployed in Orange’s live network, but not commercially available yet.
Orange has in place dozens of partnerships for roaming agreements with other MNOs, which will “open the borders between mobile and Wi-Fi” and benefit all players in the value chain.