The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Canada’s wireless operators’ decision to work together to develop interconnection, roaming and billing standards between each other’s hotspots and digital cellular networks shows they are preparing for widespread adoption of Wi-Fi. While carriers don’t yet appear to know how they can make money from this service, the agreement demonstrates that they aren’t going to let any potential revenue slip through their fingers. What’s missing from the carriers’ announcement, however, is a commitment to work with independent Wi-Fi operators to make sure they are included in this new "framework." It is these operators that are knocking on doors, inking agreements and building Wi-Fi footprints in places like shopping malls, coffee shops and golf clubs. This agreement is good news for an operator such as Spotnik Mobile Inc., which received direct investment of $6 million from the venture arm of Telus Corp. last year and would likely be included in any roaming and billing arrangements. But the same can’t be said of others with no wireless carrier affiliation. It appears as though they would be left out in the cold from any potential future benefits of this deal. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping the wireless operators from proceeding in the direction they seem to have set out for themselves. There don’t appear to be any regulatory provisions mandating roaming between Wi-Fi and digital cellular networks, so they can go ahead and make whatever deals they wish. But Industry Canada does mandate roaming between current digital cellular networks. So are there any regulatory implications for roaming when Wi-Fi is thrown into the mix? As of today, that question remains unanswered and will likely remain so even when details of the agreement are released later this year. Depending on the outcome of this agreement, the future of independent Wi-Fi operators either got a little dimmer or a lot brighter. Either they will have a footprint large enough to make them attractive acquisition targets, or they simply won’t be able to attract enough subscribers to maintain operations and they will close their doors.