Canadian Companies Forge Wi-Fi Roaming Agreement

By John Quain  |  Print this article Print


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Canadian wireless firms sign an "inter-carrier agreement" for roaming and interoperability among public Wi-Fi networks and wireless hot spots.

In an unprecedented move that may help Wi-Fi roaming become a reality, four Canadian wireless firms signed an "inter-carrier agreement" to use common standards for the interoperability of their public Wi-Fi networks. By simplifying access, the Canadian firms hope they've found the hot spot for hot spots.

According the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications industry association, the four companies involved include two large carriers, Bell Canada and Rogers Wireless Communications, as well as two smaller wireless firms, Microcell Solutions Inc. and Telus Mobility.

The four companies plan to roll out Wi-Fi spots that use a common brand identifier for hot spots in Canada. In addition, they hope to include other commercial hot spot operators who agree to meet the minimum requirements and to join the roaming alliance. By offering such consistency, businesses may be more comfortable using Wi-Fi networks on the road. The group said customers accessing compatible hot spots will be presented with a common, browser-based login area designed to provide a simple, consistent and secure service. It will also be designed to simplify billing, including adding charges to users' existing phone bills.

"Increasing the number of locations and providing consistency of service will eliminate two of the biggest barriers to Wi-Fi gaining mainstream popularity," said Peter Barnes, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, in a statement.

Expected to be up and running this fall, the Canadian firms plan to build at least 500 hot spots over the next year. Could such an agreement be in the offing south of the 49th parallel? Unlikely, say analysts, citing the increasing competition in the U.S. market.

Check out eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on wireless communication.

John Quain John Quain is the Wireless Center Editor and wireless columnist for Ziff Davis Media. He is also the on-air Computer Consultant for CBS News, appearing regularly on the network's overnight newscast Up to the Minute for over 7 years. In addition, Quain does occasional reports for CBS News The Early Show and has been reporting on technology and related business and entertainment news for over 20 years. Quain has appeared regularly on ABC News, CNN, CNNfn, MSNBC, and CNBC.

In addition to his online and on-air work, Quain currently contributes articles about computers, the Internet, consumer electronics, and technology to PC Magazine, Popular Science, Esquire, and The New York Times. Other publications Quain contributes to include Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Men's Journal, Tech Edge, and Good Housekeeping.

Past positions Quain has held include working as a Contributing Editor at Fast Company magazine for 4 years and at PC Magazine for 9 years. He also wrote a technology column for Brill's Content magazine, was the gadgets columnist at My Generation magazine, was the daily Internet columnist for Time Warner's Pathfinder, and was the computer columnist at The Globe and Mail newspaper.


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