The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) unveiled what it called a “comprehensive definition” of carrier Wi-Fi, with the aim of “closer alignment” with mobile operators.

Wi-Fi, increasingly used for cellular offload and delivering new services, is an important part of the “mobile experience”, says the alliance.

With that in mind, WBA has identified what it sees as “carrier Wi-Fi” requirements to provide a consistent user experience with “fully integrated end-to-end network capabilities” and “advanced network management”.

The alliance said it brought together nearly 20 of the world’s largest operators and vendors to participate in defining the carrier Wi-Fi vision.

Among those giving input were Accuris Networks, AT&T, BSG Wireless, BSkyB, BT, CableLabs, China Mobile, Cisco, Comcast, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel Corporation, NTT Docomo, Orange, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless, SK Telecom, Time Warner Cable and Towerstream.

WBA has also started initial consultations with numerous industry bodies, including the 3GPP, Broadband Forum, GSMA, NGMN and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

“By defining Carrier Wi-Fi, the industry can now work together to put the building blocks in place to deliver advanced Wi-Fi networks,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA. “This work will help ensure that consumers connecting to a carrier Wi-Fi network will be exposed to the best user experience possible, regardless of time or location.”

“Achieving a common vision for the future of Carrier Wi-Fi and what needs to be put in place to make it a reality is imperative, and we are delighted to be involved in such an important initiative,” added Philippe Lucas, Orange SVP (standardisation & ecosystems development), who led this initiative together with Ruckus Wireless.

“These guidelines encompass input from across the Wi-Fi ecosystem and we are confident that we have addressed the key issues and laid the groundwork for the deployment of these networks. This will secure Wi-Fi’s reputation as one of the most convenient and accessible connectivity options for the end user.”

WBA guidelines on carrier Wi-Fi will be sent to other industry bodies for feedback.