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Barcelona All Equipped With Next Generation Wi-Fi

The WBA (Wireless Broadband Alliance), in association with Fira Barcelona, The GSMA, and the city of Barcelona rolled out Passpoint™ (a thriving next gen Wi-Fi). This took place at the 2018 MWC (Mobile World Congress 2018). This showed how improved wireless hotspots can power smart cities’ connectivity. Over 2,200 Wi-Fi APs (Access Points) were set up at railway stations, Barcelona-El Prat Airport, Fira Barcelona conference centre, and city attractions such as Passeig de Gracia and Las Ramblas to keep the 100,000+ meeting attendees, as well as locals and tourists linked.

Boingo and Cisco, the WBA member firms, generated the wireless network with Passpoint. It is an NGH (Next Generation Hotspot) tech that permits users to securely and automatically link to wireless networks. While this is fully transparent to the consumers, there is a lot of effort that needs to be carried out behind the scenes. So as to roam, the access network requires accepting credentials from a wide range of CSPs (communication service providers).

Although the train stations, city network, Fira, and airport are all operated by different institutions, it all seems akin to one huge access network to an attendee of MWC as verification is carried out via a mutual set of roaming credentials. To additionally simplify the experience, in 2018 we also included enterprise credentials to the list. Supporting extra kinds of credentials means additional chances for business relation. This drives additional income.

Almost 20% of MWC attendees linked via NGH to Wi-Fi. This considerably exceeded all past deployments of NGH in Barcelona, showing a 400% increment as compared to the same period in 2017. The U.S. operators Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile pushed the bulk of traffic to the NGH hotspots of city, with more than 90% of connections from NGH arriving from their users. This is an evidence of leadership by the U.S. operators in NGH.