This week, remote access aggregator RemotePipes announced the formation of the WiMax Global Roaming Alliance (WGRA), a group dedicated to encouraging the development of global solutions for WiMax roaming.
According to Eric Engbers, RemotePipes’ president, the company’s intention is to ensure that WiMax roaming solutions develop as smoothly as possible. “We see some of the holes in the existing solutions, and we know that WiMax is uniquely positioned from a portability and mobility perspective to fill some of those holes,” he says.
The challenges faced by groups like the Wi-Fi Alliance in developing roaming standards for Wi-Fi, Engbers says, serve as a solid lesson for the WGRA. “WISPr has been implemented in at least four or five distinct flavors at this point, and I think that’s stood in the way of adoption,” he says.
Still, Engbers insists that the WGRA is not trying to become another standards body.
“[WGRA is] designed to take a look at the standards and to make sure that they truly address what the consumers are expecting from an end-to-end solution, that they’ll be practical and workable amongst network operators—and, most importantly, once consensus has been developed, that those standards are implemented in a uniform and consistent fashion,” he says.
Looking at the Wi-Fi Alliance and its challenges in implementing the WISPr standard, Engbers says, it’s clear that there’s a need for an additional body to help with implementation. “I don’t feel that there’s a need to develop another set of interoperability mechanisms, but rather to have the industry decide and steer those that are being developed—and then uniformly and consistently implement them,” he says.
In addition to helping to develop and implement WiMax roaming, the WGRA intends to focus on disseminating information to end users regarding the security and reliability of WiMax itself.
The group also aims to clarify the differences between 3G and WiMax. Too many people, Engbers says, get hung up on trying to get along in the marketplace and refuse to see things as they really are. “Anyone who looks at the capabilities of WiMax and tries to claim that it’s not competitive to 3G is missing something,” he says.
As WiMax roaming matures, RemotePipes naturally hopes that its IP Roamer solution will become an ideal way for providers to interconnect.
“We will be able to not only provide that point of interconnection based on our thorough understanding of the Alliance’s desires, but we will be able to bring an existing market to bear and help the WiMax network operators capitalize on the remote access portion of the revenue opportunity that’s developed by their network deployments,” Engbers says.
Still, he insists that the creation of the WGRA isn’t an attempt to corner the market on WiMax roaming. “There are always going to be other platforms,” he says. “The wireless LAN industry is a great example: there are at least five or six meaningful interconnection platforms there.”
The next step, Engbers says, will be to try to persuade some larger and more influential companies to join the Alliance.
“If you look at who RemotePipes works with already from a distribution perspective with our existing solution, we intend to go up and down the groups that we work with and try and get them to see the value of driving towards a WiMax-based addition to the suite of global access options,” he says.