Janet to extend Wi-Fi roaming service to 4G with EU funding

by Amy-jo Crowley| 06 February 2014

The networking company has been awarded about £60,000 from the GÉANT Innovation Programme.

Janet, a network provider for education and research in the UK, has been granted about £60,000 of EU funding to extend its Wi-Fi roaming service for users logging on to 4G networks.

The Multidomain eduroam across LTE project (MEAL) was one of the 21 networking research projects chosen to be funded by the GÉANT Innovation Programme, which was launched to bring in new ideas for network connectivity.

Janet's eduroam network allows students and staff from participating institutions to obtain Wi-Fi connectivity across their campus and when visiting other participating institutions.

The MEAL project would enable the Oxford-based company to extend the service further to 4G connectivity.

Mark O'Leary, head of net service development at Janet, told CBR: "The aim of the MEAL project is to show if we can use the same sort of authentication and roaming techniques that we've developed in the Wi-Fi world and apply that to the 4G world of LTE data telephony.

"So we're taking the eduroam techniques that were built over the last 15 years working in Wi-Fi world and we're seeing if we can use that as an authorisation method rather than an authentication method in parallel with sort of authentication that telephony providers supply."

The Oxford-based company, which is funded by the UK government, has teamed up with SURFnet, a networking company in the Netherlands, to enable the service.

"So there's a 4G provider in the Netherlands that SURFnet is working with, there's a 4G provider here in the UK that's Janet is working with. If I as user of this MEAL service were connected in the UK and then hopped on a flight and appeared in the Netherlands, when I connected in the Netherlands, my account with the UK provider would have to be somehow connected," explained O'Leary.

The funding will be used to pay managers, researchers and technologists, and buy hardware required to make it work.

"We have agreed to certain reporting responsibilities from Geant in order to justify the funding there," he said.

He added: "They might not take on what we build but use it as a template to build something from scratch or take the lessons we've learnt and build something slightly different."

"If what we discover is very compelling and a project sets off to build something for all of Europe, Janet's decision might well be to throw our effort behind that European service and co-develop it."

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