Wireless operators and 3G vendors are moving closer together in an attempt to help the problems faced by wireless data operators. Last week, UK mobile provider O2 announced a cap on monthly data in an attempt to meet the demands placed on the network by smart phones, tablets and netbooks.
The Wireless Broadband Alliance, which is holding its annual meeting in San Diego has, for the first time, shared the event's location and dates with the Wi-Fi Alliance, an indication of how closely the two different bodies are co-operating.
For Chris Bruce, the chairman of the WBA, this is part of the changing face of the organisation. "We're opening up to a wider range of membership. We're announcing new partners such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast as well as vendors like Cisco. We have all sorts of members in the organisation. We've had GSM and WiFi operators; we're now getting 3G operators too."
The challenge facing all parts of the industry, he said, was dealing with the infrastructure that has to handle more and more data. "Look at the new iPhone with video capability, it's a great device but it does add to the pressure on the network," Bruce added. "It does present a new challenge to mobile operators who have to think of new ways of pricing."
The organisation has been working with the WiFi Alliance on a new version of the WISPr protocol for inter-operator wireless roaming. Version 2.0 of the protocol will aid interconnection, not just between different WiFi networks but also with 3G operators. The trial of the new version of the protocol started this week – the trial is expected to last for six months said Bruce.
Although the WiFi Alliance and the WBA are working closely together, the two bodies have no plans to merge. "We come from different backgrounds and have different functions," said Bruce.