On 27 September, Klaas Wierenga was inducted to the prestigious Internet Hall of Fame at a special ceremony held in Costa Rica, recognised for his invention of eduroam, the global Wi-Fi roaming service for academic and research communities in over 100 countries.
We speak to Klaas to find out why he invented eduroam…
Almost 20 years ago, employed by SURFnet, Klaas Wierenga wondered why he had to log on to the Wi-Fi network again and again, at every university he visits. He decided to challenge traditional business models and the inward-looking policies of universities and schools.
“I was getting annoyed that I was visiting universities around the country and having trouble getting online and wondered why, when we’re all working together, it was so difficult to get online. So I began looking at technologies that were emerging that could solve these issues and, working with Paul Dekkers, we built a proof of concept that became eduroam.
The best thing is that eduroam is a grassroots movement where every university builds and makes its own infrastructure available to be accessible to the community. In this way everyone benefits. Of course, in the early days it was difficult to persuade them to offer their infrastructure because there were so few universities taking part and the investment in time and resources was hard to justify.
But when we reached that tipping point of adoption, IT departments stopped needing to persuade management to adopt it and then had to explain why they’re not using it then the slow start, ramped up to become massive.
eduroam could only work because of hundreds, and now thousands, of people believing in the idea and working together. This is a true sign of power of the worldwide research and education community “
With eduroam Klaas introduced a new model based on resource-sharing that gives students and employees easy and secure access to the Wi-Fi network, with one account on almost every campus in the world.
After a successful pilot in the Netherlands, conducted under SURFnet, the national research and education network in the Netherlands, eduroam was adopted by GÉANT in 2003. With the help of a grant from the EU, this organisation made eduroam available for international use in several countries. eduroam is now available in 101 countries and has more than 4.3 billion authentications at educational and research institutions around the world. There are more than 400 million national and over 100 million international roaming authentications per month, together with nearly 30,000 hotspots around the world.
Klaas’ creation contributes to the mobility of students, teachers and researchers, and increases user-friendliness and safety for these users. In many countries, eduroam is also available in public places such as libraries, parks, stations, city centers and airports to provide researchers, academics, and students with secure Internet access. It is therefore with great pride that the GÉANT community celebrates the inclusion of Klaas in the Internet Hall of Fame, rightfully receiving recognition for his groundbreaking work in the field of identity, mobility and security, and being honoured as the developer of the eduroam service for Wi-Fi roaming in research and education.
Around the world, we #love2eduroam. And today we proudly celebrate eduroam and Klaas Wierenga!
Internet Hall of Fame
The purpose of the Internet Hall of Fame awards – launched by the Internet Society in 2012 – is to publicly honour visionaries and leaders who have made important contributions to the development and improvement of the global Internet. Part of the 2019 Class of Inductees, Klaas joins Internet greats such as Vint Cerf and Jon Postel (founders of the modern internet), Linus Torvalds (the inventor of Linux) and Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the WWW).
The power of education and research networks
Klaas joins other SURF and GÉANT employees (Kees Neggers, Erik Huizer and Dai Davies) in being inducted to the prestigious Internet Hall of Fame, a wonderful recognition of the innovative power of these closely cooperating organisations.
“I am overwhelmed,” said Wierenga, Chief Community Support Officer at GÉANT. “I am very happy and very honoured with this recognition for me personally. But mainly because it shows that it has not remained unnoticed that hundreds of members of the ‘eduroam family’ have committed themselves to build something extraordinary.”
GÉANT CEO Erik Huizer comments, “This recognition for Klaas is justified and underlines the innovative character of the international community of networks for education and research as a whole and organisations such as SURF and GÉANT in particular. The recognition will also be echoed by almost every student in the world who has experienced the convenience of eduroam. GÉANT is extremely proud and congratulates Klaas for his induction to the Internet Hall of Fame.”
SURF Board Member Erwin Bleumink adds, “We are extremely proud at SURF, because Klaas worked on eduroam being based at SURF. It is a great challenge for SURF to provide the education and research community with the resources they need to do their great work. Klaas has more than succeeded in this and we warmly congratulate him on his well-earned honor. eduroam has not been limited to the education and research community. In the Netherlands we have shared our experiences with third parties, creating initiatives based on the same principles, such as govroam for civil servants.”
The GÉANT Community would also like to congratulate Michael Stanton of Brazilian NREN RNP who is also a 2019 inductee. Michael was instrumental in bringing the Internet to Brazil, and continues to participate in the design and deployment of scalable optical networks in South America and around the world.