Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

WBA proposes WRIX for IoT roaming

Steve Rogerson
May 30, 2018
 
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has established requirements for IoT roaming. Its latest white paper calls for the use of WRIX specification to address problems with interoperability.
 
The white paper investigates how existing wifi roaming capabilities could help the IoT market with the evolution of IoT device roaming, ensuring devices can seamlessly talk with 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.
 
Over the past ten years, the WBA has built on the cellular ecosystem success story, enabling the building blocks that are scalable and allow operators in turn to build revenue streams in the wifi world. The ecosystem now leverages more frictionless business opportunities and IoT players may benefit from such similar opportunities and avoid inefficient islands of connectivity.
 
While roaming is being accomplished today on different types of networks such as cellular and wifi, the diversity of devices and the growth in the market mean 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 – the use of a modularised 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, organisations can prepare their networks to facilitate simple, seamless and secure IoT connectivity for their users. The report highlights several areas where WRIX can 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.
· For IoT technology that was built from the ground up, and therefore involves a specific assessment on interwork possibilities, the WBA outlines collaboration opportunities.
 
“Cross-network device roaming is becoming increasingly important to fulfil the vast scalability requirements of the IoT,” said Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA. “Yet deploying IoT roaming services is no easy feat, and the process will take several years. 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 framework will be trialled by the WBA and its members, using the experience acquired with previous end-to-end interoperability trials such as NGH next generation hotspot. 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 wifi roaming.