Ruckus Wireless is a big believer in Hotspot 2.0, which automates the WiFi connection process.
With Hotspot 2.0, explains the company’s Steve Hratko, users enjoy a seamless experience as they move between Wi-Fi networks from almost any location. A massive network of Wi-Fi access points is possible through a web of interconnections, and it provides airlink encryption using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Hotspot 2.0 (also called Passpoint-certified) access points and controllers have now been shipping for over a year from all the major infrastructure vendors. Coupled with new Hotspot 2.0-capable smartphones recently introduced by Samsung, Apple IOS-7 devices, and others, the planets are now aligned for monetization, according to Ruckus.
One of the first to establish a Hotspot 2.0 roaming consortium, AT&T’s international roaming program for its mobile subscribers has been viewed as the first to automatically connect customers to Wi-Fi hotspots authenticating users roaming abroad using the SIM card in their phones. This has set the stage for future business models based on Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, and Next Generation Hotspots (NGH).
AT&T is using ACCURIS, a Roaming hub, Accuris Networks’ and its AccuRoam technology authenticates Wi-Fi roamers. These new roaming hub companies such as Accuris and Syniverse can make money with Hotspot 2.0 by routing authentication requests to operators as well by facilitating the cumbersome billing and settlement process.
Using AccuROAM, Aircell just rolled out Gogo Text & Talk, the first service that lets air travellers perform end-to-end calling and texting on their smartphones using Wi-Fi as if they were on the ground.
Hotspot 2.0 roaming consortiums, says Ruckus, are the beginning of a big trend of mobile operators leveraging Wi-Fi not just for domestic offload, but to also give end users better roaming with a simpler and more secure experience.
Roughly 90% of tablets use WiFi only. About 25% of tablets are capable of WiFi+Cellular, but are not activated by the consumer, so the total WiFi tablets in use as of Q4 2011 were roughly 87% of the mix.
ZDNet explains Hotspot 2.0 is about certifying the hotspot itself, providing authentication using SIMs or certificates, the 802.11i security standard, and 802.11u to provide performance and other information about the hotspots visible to a device. This will allow you to roam onto a hotspot with good connectivity if you have an account.
Pricing for Hotspot 2.0 access has yet to be determined. WiFi access is unlikely to be “free” for many of these Hotspot 2.0 networks unless you’re already a carrier subscriber.
According to a report by In-Stat Research entitled “Wi-Fi Hotspots: the Mobile Operator’s 3G Offload Alternative,” worldwide hotspot venues are projected to increase to over 1.2 million venues in 2015 from under 421,000 in 2010. Usage will follow similar growth, increasing from four billion connects in 2010 to 120 billion connects by 2015.
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