The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) announced an expansion of its relationship with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) that will further TIP’s Open AFC Software Group and help spur global adoption of Wi-Fi in the new 6 GHz unlicensed band. The partnership will maximize the full benefits of 6 GHz Wi-Fi – today Wi-Fi 6E, and the near future, Wi-Fi 7 – and all types of use cases that can benefit from it, including indoor and outdoor venues that have adopted OpenRoaming.
The momentum around enabling the use of the 6 GHz band is unmistakable. Over 41 countries worldwide have already designated 6 GHz for unlicensed use. Many others are actively working to open up the band. Many of these countries see the value of enabling standard power operations that would require automated frequency coordination (AFC). The goal of Open AFC is to develop an open-source reference implementation of an AFC system. This framework will enable unlicensed devices in the 6 GHz band to operate outdoors as well as increase their indoor range while ensuring that existing services are protected from interference. Enabling the full benefits of 6 GHz Wi-Fi with an AFC system will deliver all the public Wi-Fi benefits of OpenRoaming including automatic friction-free onboarding for users whilst managing privacy and security and enabling different identity options.
In May 2021, TIP adopted the WBA OpenRoaming standard, which enables users to securely roam from location to location without the need for logins, registrations, or passwords. WBA will collaborate with TIP to define how Open AFC will work and how public and guest Wi-Fi based on OpenRoaming can benefit from the full capabilities of Wi-Fi 6E.
Open AFC also complements TIP OpenWiFi. This initiative reimagines the way Wi-Fi networks are built and deployed by leveraging open-source development and automated testing to allow Wi-Fi service providers to confidently deploy APs, cloud controllers, and smart analytics from different vendors.
Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said that as they take steps towards optimizing the connectivity and economic benefits of the 6 GHz band, they also need to ensure fair and equitable use of the band. Open AFC will benefit the whole Wi-Fi Industry, including networks that have adopted OpenRoaming. It will enhance Wi-Fi to provide a consistently great, secure broadband user experience in stadiums, homes, enterprises, schools, hospitals, and more.
Chris Szymanski, TIP Open AFC Software Group Co-Chair, and Director of Product Marketing, Technology Strategy, Wireless Communications & Connectivity Division at Broadcom, also commented that AFC is critical to the future of 6 GHz Wi-Fi. With AFC, Wi-Fi devices can operate at higher powers, provide greater coverage, and operate outdoors. This fits well within the focus area of the WBA, an organization that is highly focused on improving operator-provisioned Wi-Fi.
Michael Tseytlin, TIP Open AFC Software Group Co-Chair, and Director, Spectrum, and Standards, Meta stated that with more than 30 companies already involved in the Project Group, the collaboration with WBA brings in new strength to the team. They look forward to working with the WBA in enabling AFC operations around the globe.
Matthew MacPherson, CTO of Wireless at Cisco said that as a board member of the WBA and a founding member of TIP Open AFC Software Group, Cisco is excited to see these two organizations collaborate in driving next-generation Wi-Fi use cases. WBA’s mission of holistically driving recommendations and specifications to simplify the adoption of new innovations is a great match with Open AFC’s dedication to delivering an open-source solution that expands standard power solutions and makes them available to a broad set of vendors and users. By working together, these two groups can jointly open up new opportunities for wireless innovation through the use of higher power within the 6 GHz spectrum, driving greater range and reliability.