Cellular/WiFi Roaming Gets Real

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that is now testing mobile equipment for its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint program. The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint program enables mobile devices to automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks, without the manual fiddling of wireless settings.

Marvell today announced its participation in the program. Marvell, and the Wi-Fi Alliance, alongside leading device makers and operators, will work together to drive standards-based certification of Passpoint, which will deliver a cellular-like connectivity experience to Wi-Fi networks.

Broadcom says their BCM43224, BCM4718 and BCM4322 chips are among the first to obtain the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint designation and will be used as a benchmark for testing and validating future products. Their new 5G WiFi line is based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard.

Passpoint supports the use of one set of account credentials for multiple hotspots. All Passpoint-certified devices implement a single solution for many operator networks.

Passpoint allows cell companies to enable roaming agreements with hotspot providers, enabling new revenue streams and making Wi-Fi an extension of paid service provider networks. Passpoint-certified devices work across vendors and have Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security protections.

The key elements of the Hotspot 2.0 Task Group from the Wi-Fi Alliance for the Phase 1 Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint certification program, are:

  • Network discovery and selection: Mobile devices will discover and automatically select and connect to Wi-Fi networks based upon user preferences and network optimization.
  • Streamlined network access: Mobile devices will be automatically granted access to the network based upon credentials such as SIM cards, which are widely used in cellular devices today. No user intervention will be required.
  • Security: Over-the-air transmissions will be encrypted using the latest-generation security technology (Wi-Fi Certified WPA2-Enterprise).

The key elements of the Wi-Fi Certified Phase 2 Passpoint certification program, anticipated to launch in late Q1 2013, are:

  • Immediate account provisioning: The process of establishing a new user account at the point of access will be simplified, eliminating many user steps and driving a common provisioning methodology across vendors.
  • Provisioning of operator policy for network selection: A mobile device’s connection manager uses this policy to select the best Wi-Fi network to join when multiple networks are available.

Ruckus Wireless today announced that its Smart Wi-Fi products have been selected as part of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ test bed and have completed Phase 1 interoperability trials within the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) program.

Ruckus is among some of the first Wi-Fi suppliers to receive Passpoint certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance for its products.

While working with the Wi-Fi Alliance on the Passpoint testbed and certification, Ruckus worked closely with the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) to have its ZoneFlex products tested for interoperability with the WBA’s Next-Generation Hotspot – a parallel effort conducted by mobile and broadband operators, and cable providers, to conduct trials of Passpoint-certified products.

The Ruckus SmartCell Gateway lets operators inject WiFi capacity. Ruckus says the SmartCell Gateway 200 eliminates the difficulties operators are experiencing with building and managing large-scale small cell networks.

Mobile network operators are now scrambling to include Wi-Fi in their service offerings, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading, and they’ve got several different ways to add WiFi to their networks.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance has a parallel effort to the WiFi.org Passport program called the Next-Generation Hotspot. It’s being conducted by mobile and broadband operators and cable providers.

Next Generation Hotspots will use Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint equipment, letting users gain access without the need for usernames and passwords, while also allowing operators to establish relationships with each other. That will allow users to access a wide variety of hotspots in their own country and around the world.

Boingo Wireless today announced its continued support of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) advanced Next Generation Hotspot trials, slated for Q4 2012. The WBA announced today that Boingo will be a leading participant in phase two Next Generation Hotspot trials (pdf).

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

Leave a Reply