New roaming technology turns Wi-Fi into 4G
Swedish startup Anyfi Networks today came out of stealth mode to present Anyfi.net, a Wi-Fi roaming technology they hope will shake up the mobile broadband industry. This new technology lets an Internet service provider offer the same Wi-Fi user experience both at home and on the go.
“Until now Wi-Fi hotspots have been difficult to use and inherently insecure. Our solution works with any Wi-Fi device out of the box and provides fully automatic WPA security” said Björn Smedman, CEO.
The trick is combining Wi-Fi with IP, Internet Protocol, to break the tie between logical network and physical infrastructure, much in the same way as Voice over IP separates your phone service from the physical line.
“You can think of it as Wi-Fi over IP” explained Björn Smedman. “Our cloud based matchmaking service keeps track of each device’s favorite network and makes sure it is available from the closest access point. By forwarding the raw Wi-Fi radio traffic over the Internet we can ensure security, even if an attacker is in control of the access point.”
According to the company this high level of security is one of the key features making the technology suitable for integration in modems of various types, and this is what makes it potentially disruptive, effectively turning Wi-Fi into a full-blown 4G technology.
“Today only about 1-2% of residential broadband capacity is actually used. The rest just goes to waste. At the same time we are seeing mobile networks brought to their knees under the load of data-hungry devices like the iPhone. If you can guarantee that there is no negative impact whatsoever to the subscriber, why not use some of that spare capacity to offload mobile?” asked Björn Smedman.
Using this reasoning a broadband connection with a Wi-Fi router at the end can be thought of as a building block of sorts and Anyfi.net is the mortar. By combining them, existing infrastructure can be transformed into a radio access network, license-exempt and Wi-Fi compatible. A fixed-line operator with a high density of broadband subscribers in an urban area could become a mobile operator over night by simply upgrading the modem software, something that can be done remotely. But smaller operators could also join together to collectively provide mobile Internet access, with worldwide roaming.