News Archive

July 2012

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

June 2012

Bringing Location and Navigation Technology Indoors

May 2012

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

Encryption System Flaw Threatens Internet Security

April 2012

For Business Intelligence, the Trend Is Location, Location, Location

Corpus Linguistics Keep Up-to-Date with Language

March 2012

Are Tomorrow's Firewalls Finally Here Today?

February 2012

Spatial Humanities Brings History to Life

December 2011

Could Hackers Take Your Car for a Ride?

November 2011

What to Do about Supercookies?

October 2011

Lights, Camera, Virtual Moviemaking

September 2011

Revolutionizing Wall Street with News Analytics

August 2011

Growing Network-Encryption Use Puts Systems at Risk

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

July 2011

FBI Employs New Botnet Eradication Tactics

Google and Twitter "Like" Social Indexing

June 2011

Computing Commodities Market in the Cloud

May 2011

Intel Chips Step up to 3D

Apple Programming Error Raises Privacy Concerns

Thunderbolt Promises Lightning Speed

April 2011

Industrial Control Systems Face More Security Challenges

Microsoft Effort Takes Down Massive Botnet

March 2011

IP Addresses Getting Security Upgrade

February 2011

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

January 2011

New Web Protocol Promises to Reduce Browser Latency

To Be or NAT to Be?

December 2010

Intel Gets inside the Helmet

Tuning Body-to-Body Networks with RF Modeling

November 2010

New Wi-Fi Spec Simplifies Connectivity

Expanded Top-Level Domains Could Spur Internet Real Estate Boom

October 2010

New Weapon in War on Botnets

September 2010

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

Gesturing Going Mainstream

August 2010

Is Context-Aware Computing Ready for the Limelight?

Flexible Routing in the Cloud

Signal Congestion Rejuvenates Interest in Cell Paging-Channel Protocol

July 2010

New Protocol Improves Interaction among Networked Devices and Applications

Security for Domain Name System Takes a Big Step Forward

The ROADM to Smarter Optical Networking

Distributed Cache Goes Mainstream

June 2010

New Application Protects Mobile-Phone Passwords

WiGig Alliance Reveals Ultrafast Wireless Specification

Cognitive Radio Adds Intelligence to Wireless Technology

May 2010

New Product Uses Light Connections in Blade Server

April 2010

Browser Fingerprints Threaten Privacy

New Animation Technique Uses Motion Frequencies to Shake Trees

March 2010

Researchers Take Promising Approach to Chemical Computing

Screen-Capture Programming: What You See is What You Script

Research Project Sends Data Wirelessly at High Speeds via Light

February 2010

Faster Testing for Complex Software Systems

IEEE 802.1Qbg/h to Simplify Data Center Virtual LAN Management

Distributed Data-Analysis Approach Gains Popularity

Twitter Tweak Helps Haiti Relief Effort

January 2010

2010 Rings in Some Y2K-like Problems

Infrastructure Sensors Improve Home Monitoring

Internet Search Takes a Semantic Turn

December 2009

Phase-Change Memory Technology Moves toward Mass Production

IBM Crowdsources Translation Software

Digital Ants Promise New Security Paradigm

November 2009

Program Uses Mobile Technology to Help with Crises

More Cores Keep Power Down

White-Space Networking Goes Live

Mobile Web 2.0 Experiences Growing Pains

October 2009

More Spectrum Sought for Body Sensor Networks

Optics for Universal I/O and Speed

High-Performance Computing Adds Virtualization to the Mix

ICANN Accountability Goes Multinational

RFID Tags Chat Their Way to Energy Efficiency

September 2009

Delay-Tolerant Networks in Your Pocket

Flash Cookies Stir Privacy Concerns

Addressing the Challenge of Cloud-Computing Interoperability

Ephemeralizing the Web

August 2009

Bluetooth Speeds Up

Grids Get Closer

DCN Gets Ready for Production

The Sims Meet Science

Sexy Space Threat Comes to Mobile Phones

July 2009

WiGig Alliance Makes Push for HD Specification

New Dilemnas, Same Principles:
Changing Landscape Requires IT Ethics to Go Mainstream

Synthetic DNS Stirs Controversy:
Why Breaking Is a Good Thing

New Approach Fights Microchip Piracy

Technique Makes Strong Encryption Easier to Use

New Adobe Flash Streams Internet Directly to TVs

June 2009

Aging Satellites Spark GPS Concerns

The Changing World of Outsourcing

North American CS Enrollment Rises for First Time in Seven Years

Materials Breakthrough Could Eliminate Bootups

April 2009

Trusted Computing Shapes Self-Encrypting Drives

March 2009

Google, Publishers to Try New Advertising Methods

Siftables Offer New Interaction Model for Serious Games

Hulu Boxed In by Media Conglomerates

February 2009

Chips on Verge of Reaching 32 nm Nodes

Hathaway to Lead Cybersecurity Review

A Match Made in Heaven: Gaming Enters the Cloud

January 2009

Government Support Could Spell Big Year for Open Source

25 Reasons For Better Programming

Web Guide Turns Playstation 3 Consoles into Supercomputing Cluster

Flagbearers for Technology: Contemporary Techniques Showcase US Artifact and European Treasures

December 2008

.Tel TLD Debuts As New Way to Network

Science Exchange

November 2008

The Future is Reconfigurable

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

by Sixto Ortiz Jr.

Cellular and Wi-Fi provide important services to many users. Industry observers say users' ability to move smoothly between the two systems would make mobile technology more useful. However, such roaming is currently difficult.

Now, providers of mobile-phone and Wi-Fi-based hot-spot services are working to bring the technologies together by enabling seamless, standardized roaming between the two types of networks, including those offered by different providers.

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) are spearheading this effort.

These capabilities would be advantageous for cellular companies, especially those that also provide hotspot services.

The demand for wireless data is rising exponentially and straining cellular networks. Carriers thus want to offload some of that traffic to Wi-Fi networks.

The new roaming technology would also benefit users who currently must manually manage the often-baffling process of accessing Wi-Fi networks from mobile devices. Moreover, Wi-Fi would provide them with faster data rates.

"The goal is seamless hands-off and transparent authentication," said Craig J. Mathias, principal with the Farpoint Group, a wireless-industry analysis firm. "The required technologies already exist, so the key lies with integrating those into a cohesive whole."

The Drive for Roaming

Exploding smartphone use has driven the increased utilization of cellular networks for sending data.

Roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi networks will be critical if carriers hope to carry all the traffic this yields and meet their data-capacity expectations and those of their customers, noted Mathias.

Roaming capabilities would be particularly well-suited for implementation in high-density, high-demand areas such as major cities and big college campuses.

Wi-Fi offers a low deployment cost, enormous capacity, and efficient frequency usage, Mathias explained.

Many mobile carriers run their own Wi-Fi networks. Some enable access to other providers' hotspots. However, this typically requires users to check a list of nearby networks, enter a username and password for the selected service, and then sometimes pay for access.

And service providers must perform multiple steps to authenticate and bill users.

Cellular and Wi-Fi networks use different approaches for tasks such as network selection, user authentication, and billing, which also makes roaming difficult.

The primary issue has been convincing the pertinent companies and organizations to work together to use existing technologies to develop a framework for overcoming the barriers to roaming.

Enabling Roaming

Several specifications promise to help enable roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Hotspot 2.0

A key part of the effort to deliver seamless cellular-to-Wi-Fi roaming is Hotspot 2.0, a specification that the WFA — a consortium of equipment manufacturers, hotspot providers, and cellular carriers — has developed.

This specification enables interoperability between different manufacturers' equipment, such as access points, smartphones, and routers, said Tiago Rodrigues, program director with the WBA, a Wi-Fi service-provider consortium.

Hotspot 2.0 uses the IEEE 802.11u standard to allow automatic network discovery and selection for mobile devices.

For example, 802.11u lets a device on a cellular network discover an appropriate Wi-Fi network to connect with. The standard does this by enabling networks to announce information about themselves, such as whether they are private or public and whether users must pay to utilize them.

Hotspot 2.0 also uses IEEE 802.1x, which works with the Extensible Authentication Protocol to enable authentication-based security for accessing Wi-Fi networks.

Adoption of these standardized approaches by both cellular and Wi-Fi networks would let users roam between them more easily, said WFA senior marketing manager Kevin Robinson.

The WFA plans to launch its Passport Certification Program this year to verify that products meet Hotspot 2.0 specifications.

Next-Generation Hotspot

The WBA's Next-Generation Hotspot technology, scheduled for completion later this year, enables roaming at the network level.

According to Rodrigues, the WBA and the GSMA are working together on NGH.

When finished later this year, NGH will extend the capabilities of the WBA's Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange (WRIX) framework for roaming between Wi-Fi networks to also enable roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.


The GSMA will extend its GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) Roaming Exchange (GRX) for cellular networks to also allow roaming between GSM cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

GRX acts like a hub that aggregates GPRS connections between roaming users, making it more efficient to interconnect networks.


A critical issue is enabling cellular and Wi-Fi systems to exchange information about roaming customers so that users can be billed and all participating providers can be paid for the services they provide, said Maribel Lopez, principal and founder of Lopez Research, a market-analysis firm.

Cellular and Wi-Fi networks use different billing technologies.

For example, GSM-based cellular systems use the Transferred Account Procedure and CDMA networks use the Cellular Intercarrier Billing Exchange Record.

TAP and CIBER capture data about network usage by people who roam from other networks. They then transfer the information to the user's home network so that the operator of that network can bill the subscriber for the roaming charges.

Wi-Fi networks work with AAA (authentication, authorization and accounting), which uses the Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) protocol to provide the same functions.

Roaming proponents aim to develop an interworking procedure that would map functions between the billing approaches so that they could interoperate.

Roaming into the Future

Enabling roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi networks will be essential to the cellular industry's future, said Farpoint's Mathias.

The WFA, WBA and GSMA are thus working to ensure that their approaches function well together, said Kevin Robinson at the WiFi Alliance.

However, noted Rodrigues, some of the pieces are already in use.

For example, he explained, several service providers—such as Swisscom, TeliaSonera, Portugal Telecom, BT, and PCCW — already operate Wi-Fi networks that work with 802.1x and EAP authentication.

However, warned Mathias, mapping existing authentication mechanisms between Wi-Fi and cellular systems will be challenging because cellular carriers will have write a lot of code to accomplish this complex task.

In addition, Rodrigues noted, there are concerns in areas such as quality of service. Some cellular and Wi-Fi networks could offer different QoS levels.

Rodrigues also said frameworks should enforce policies uniformly across the different types of networks.

Mathias said he expects broad deployment of the technologies that enable roaming in, for example, cellular base stations, Wi-Fi equipment for carriers, and network management systems.

However, he said, this process will require considerable evolution.

He predicted that high volume deployments are at least four to five years away, and deep market penetration will require seven to 10 years.