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Time Warner files patent for mobile WiFi roaming

Posting in Cities

A patent outlining the use of WiFi in mobile devices when roaming has been submitted.

Cable telecommunications company Time Warner Cable has filed a patent application which may allow subscribers to roam via their mobile devices.

The patent application (20120044914) describes in detail technology that could connect smartphones and other mobile devices to WiFi access points. While roaming, an individual device would be able to automatically connect to WiFi hotspots located in both households and cities with inbuilt access points.

According to the U.S. application, 'System and method for WiFi roaming', this technology has been developed further -- and may eventually allow subscribers to make phone calls through the WiFi connections.

The patent's abstract states:

"A datastore conveys information about the roaming Wi-Fi devices to the VAP to permit them to access the VAP without the need for manual configuration of the VAP.

A roaming Wi-Fi device may communicate with a gateway via a tunnel to maintain session connectivity during roaming. A session may be initiated on one network, such as a Wi-Fi network or a cellular network, handed off to another network, such as a cellular network or a Wi-Fi network, and then returned to network on which the session was initiated."

Within the patent application, Time Warner includes images for a mobile device that could rely on WiFi connections and handoffs to cellular networks to transmit phone calls and data.

One barrier that the company has considered in terms of roaming is how to connect a personal mobile device to different WiFi hotspots without the need to continually input credentials for access. The patent application describes a method for 'handing over' subscriber details to eliminate this issue:

"A session may be initiated on one network, such as a WiFi network or cellular network, handed off to another network, such as a cellular network or a WiFi network, and then returned to network on which the session was initiated."

Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and other cable providers have increased their investment in the construction of WiFi hotspots in order to entice high-speed subscribers. If this patent is approved and taken further, then it may become yet another service to appeal to potential customers.

(via: FierceCable)

Image credit: Yodel Anecdotal

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure