They Roam, You Roam, WeRoam

By Eric Griffith

November 12, 2002

A Swiss WLAN/GSM integrator is the first company to launch a service based on Transat Technologies' embedded software that lets WLAN users roam on hotspots run by cellular carriers.

Transat Technologies of Southlake, TX, has finally seen the launch of the first commercial product based on its technology and software for SIM-based authentication and billing on a wireless LAN.

WeRoam is a service of TOGEWAnet, a WLAN and GSM network integrator headquartered in Bern, Switzerland. The WeRoam service will let users seamlessly roam between 802.11 hotspots, GSM, and GPRS networks deployed by, or in partnership with, TOGEWAnet. The end user will be authenticated and billed no matter where they are, as long as they use products with the Transat technology built in.

"What we've done is brought to market a business model with WeRoam that lets wireless carriers get into the WLAN space without a capital investment," says Transat CEO John Baker. Carriers simply enter into deals with hotspot providers, or even provide the equipment, so that when existing GSM customers use the WLAN, they'll be authenticated as the same user and billed to the same account.

Users will need to use a SIM smart card to identify themselves to the network they're on, whether WLAN or cellular. Usually, a SIM module comes as a removable chip card the size of a postage stamp. It's built into mobile phone handsets and generally holds user information -- for example, the personal directory of the phone's owner. SIM is short for the Extensible Authentication Protocol called Subscriber Identity Module (EAP-SIM), the authentication technology used in GSM mobile phone networks.

"Through the roaming model used now for GSM, hotspot providers can build networks and use GSM roaming through those hotspots." Companies like TOGEWAnet can make partnerships with the hotspots to get their end-user to install the required Transat client software. The WeRoam service takes care of the AAA and the revenue is shared with the hotspot venue owner.

Companies that use the Transat software do not have to create a new user list. Baker says the solution "integrates with the carrier customer Home Location Register (HLR) database, there's no duplication of data. They generate their own customers."

TOGEWAnet first demonstrated the WeRoam service this past summer, but the service is now in commercial use.

Transat's Baker says the company is hard at work making deals with mobile carriers, wireless ISPs and third-party system integrators throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

802.11 Planet Conference Curious about video over WLANs? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, Dec. 3-5 in Santa Clara, CA. One of our sessions will cover Distributing Wireless Entertainment.

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