HomeAccessDublin City Council, Virgin Media trial TIP OpenWiFi

    Dublin City Council, Virgin Media trial TIP OpenWiFi


    It complies with the European Commission’s WiFi4EU initiative for public Wi-Fi

    Dublin City Council in Ireland is trialling Wi-Fi 6 access points that comply with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenWiFi for potential use in the city’s public Wi-Fi infrastructure. The trial is supported by Virgin Media Business, the city’s internet service provider.

    TIP’s disaggregated OpenWiFi complies with the technical requirements of the European Commission’s WiFi4EU initiative, the intended benchmark for public Wi-Fi deployments in Europe. 

    WiFi4EU promotes free access to Wi-Fi in public spaces like parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums throughout Europe. Municipalities receive a voucher that pays for the network, including maintenance of the equipment, to offer the service free for at least three years.

    Dublin City’s WiFi4EU Wi-Fi network will be free and available throughout its city centre. The trial uses TIP OpenWiFi-compliant products and open source software including a cloud-based controller from NetExperience and access points from Edgecore and HFCL. 

    TIP OpenWiFi is an open source-based Wi-Fi architecture that enables multi-vendor, interoperable Wi-Fi networks. The solution enables Dublin City Council and Virgin Media to mix and match additional access points and controllers from any TIP OpenWiFi compliant manufacturer.

    Neil Bullock, Technical Program Manager, Smart Cities, TIP, acted as project manager for the Dublin deployment. He explains, “OpenWiFi is an architecture developed to unlock the Wi-Fi ecosystem. Just as the RAN…is dominated by a relatively few incumbents with proprietary interfaces, and so forth, so is Wi-Fi. Although you think of it as an open technology, it’s really only been the link between the access point and the end consumer so far, whether that’s an actual consumer or enterprise or whatever. The internals [of Wi-Fi] have been locked up, including the Wi-Fi access controller locked to the access points.”

    That has two drawbacks, according to Bullock. First, is while that might not be such a problem for household connectivity, but for enterprise and industrial use that usually means being obliged to buy from a single company, “because you need a controller and all the support it gives you to understand how your network is performing. APs connect to that controller in a closed system,” Bullock says. So as with open RAN, diversity is a driver – using an AP from one supplier and a controller from others that just plug and play.

    The second advantage of OpenWi-Fi is “in a collaborative environment, you can develop features and roll them out more quickly…Cities in particular are very sensitive to procurement issues, so the inability to go beyond one provider is always problematic,”  he continues, although at the same time, because it’s public money “they’re risk averse.”

    He reckons, “This is the biggest procurement exercise across Europe, driven by the European Commission to really enhance the number of cities that have public Wi-Fi deployments.”

    A TIP OpenWiFi network can also support OpenRoaming, without change to hardware or software which TIP says demonstrates the innovation and maturity of its OpenWiFi.

    OpenRoaming is based on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint  from the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Wireless Roaming Intermediary eXchange (WRIX) standards. This enables users to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks without logging in. It also offloads mobile connectivity and enables wireless convergence.

    Bullock continues, “Looking a little bit into the future, it gets more interesting when you lay open roaming on top to unlock some value mechanisms that help justify these networks’ deployment as you have potential other means of getting revenue into the network.

    “We hope that as a result of people seeing this work, they’ll feel more confident about taking on an open Wi-Fi for this particular application. 

    Municipalities can learn more about TIP OpenWiFi and get involved in this initiative here