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OpenRoaming for IoT Onboarding

March 13, 2024

When you switch on a brand-new cellular or wired IoT device, it can be bootstrapped to connect to a provisioning server immediately. The IoT connectivity is secure and seamless from the moment the device is switched on.

This is not the case with Wi-Fi-based IoT devices. We have all tried to onboard these devices to the Wi-Fi network using an app, QR code, or Bluetooth, which may be okay for consumer devices. But what about industrial and enterprise use cases with thousands of devices? The onboarding issue is currently the largest showstopper for a mass market of Wi-Fi-based IoT devices.

At Enea, we have tried to solve this with the Zero-touch Wi-Fi IoT onboarding invention utilizing the already installed device certificates. The idea is excellent, but it requires industrywide acceptance and deployment. This was before OpenRoaming.

We now see the potential in using OpenRoaming to make Wi-Fi IoT onboarding as secure and seamless as Cellular and Wired IoT. It is a complex task with many use cases, and it may require a separate base RCOI for IoT and a different set of CAG policies. But it can be done.

Update March 2024

The FIDO Alliance is leading the way in automatically onboarding IoT and headless devices. They have a well-thought-out process with their FIDO Device Onboard (FDO), an automatic onboarding protocol for edge nodes and IoT devices. FDO enables late binding of device credentials so that one manufactured device may be onboarded to many different cloud and edge management platforms. But to perform this late binding of credentials, the device needs connectivity to reach a so-called Rendezvous Service. This works well for wired and cellular devices that get connected when powered up but not for Wi-Fi-based IoT devices.

We are happy to announce that Enea and Intel have taken the initiative to form a working group within WBA called OpenRoaming & FIDO Device Onboarding with the mission to use OpenRoaming for a zero-touch connectivity for Wi-Fi-based IoT devices. The work is still in its initial stage,  the goal is to make FDO as seamless for Wi-Fi as it is for fixed and cellular.