Present in over 100 countries, the eduroam service today is incomparably larger than when it was created almost two decades ago. Portugal was one of the countries involved in the creation of this mobility service which, for service specialist Pedro Simões, is "an example of success at various levels". The security of Internet access and the potential for mobility are some of the added values highlighted regarding the use of this service managed in Portugal by the FCCN Unit.
The eduroam project is about to turn two decades old, and Portugal was one of the first six countries to join. How do you evaluate its implementation in Portugal?
There is no doubt that the eduroam service is a worldwide success story, especially in the Portuguese academic and research community. Portugal has been involved in this project from the very first moment, having contributed significantly to its genesis and definition. Every year, we have seen new entities joining this service, expanding the network's footprint and increasing its availability.
Its almost natural presence is evident in the approximately 26 thousand eduroam hotspots inserted in universities and research centres in more than 100 countries around the world. In Portugal, this network can be found in the vast majority of public and private higher education institutions, state laboratories and other academic bodies.
There are also successful cases in which the eduroam footprint has gone beyond the boundaries of the institutions and has been integrated into the public spaces of the cities where they are located.
What do you think are the main added values offered by eduroam to members of the educational and research communities? Are there any usage tips that can be shared?
The great advantage of the service is the mobility it offers its users. With its presence, problems of access to Wi-Fi networks anywhere are solved. The motto "open your laptop and get online" is becoming more and more a reality, and is even something that users expect when visiting another institution. In fact, this connection happens naturally and often without users realizing it, especially on mobile devices, which connect automatically.
Another important point of the eduroam service is security, both for users and authentication processes. This has been a premise, from the very first moment, and has been constantly reinforced, both with new technologies and with a constant analysis of the security issues arising in the market.
As for usage tips, I repeat what is often communicated to eduroam users before moving. They should ensure in advance that the configurations are well done and, whenever necessary, they should resort to tools such as eduroam CAT (Configuration Asssitant Tool). Using this, it is possible to automatically configure the devices, providing only the user name and password.
How has the presence and use of this service evolved in Portugal?
Since the very first moment, the eduroam service has been a success story at various levels in Portugal. Firstly, the number of adhering entities has steadily increased. Today there are already 76 entities that offer the eduroam network in Portugal, in their facilities and campuses, as well as in nearby locations, even as a result of specific partnerships.
In the same vein, as expected, the number of users has also grown exponentially. This means that it has a great impact in two ways. On the one hand, this increase shows that, within the entities, eduroam is the users' preferred network. On the other hand, from the mobility point of view, it is clear that more and more users are using this proposal to connect to the Internet when visiting another institution. The ease of use, without any intervention by the users, enhances this.
What are the next steps planned for eduroam in Portugal? And, from a global point of view, what do you anticipate the evolution of this service to be?
In addition to constant technological evolution, the eduroam service has well-defined goals for Portugal and the rest of the countries where it is implemented. Being a global initiative, it wants to extend its presence and coverage even further. With several success cases in our country, we want to spread its presence even further, jumping the boundaries of the academic world and making this network an even more constant presence, especially in places that are visited daily by users.