Monday, March 21, 2011

"Wi-Fi CERTIFIED" Hotspot Program Aims for Easier Public Roaming

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced plans to launch a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED testing program that addresses authentication and provision of service for public Wi-Fi networks. The program also aims to facilitate the seamless handoff of cellular traffic from data-hungry smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics to Wi-Fi, helping service providers manage demands on constrained licensed spectrum.

The key benefits of the hotspot program include:

  • Network Discovery and Selection: Devices discover and automatically choose networks based upon user preferences, operator policies and network optimization.

  • Streamlined Network Access: In many cases, devices will be automatically granted access to the network based upon credential mechanisms, such as SIM cards, which are widely used in cellular devices today.

  • Immediate Account Provisioning: The process of establishing a new user account at the point of access will be streamlined, eliminating user steps and driving a common provisioning methodology across vendors.

  • WPA2 Security: Over-the-air transmissions are encrypted using the latest-generation security technology.

"Ensuring end users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers is a win for subscribers, service providers and device makers alike," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "We envision an automated, cellular-like experience for Wi-Fi users around the world in security-protected service provider hotspots."

"As a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, France Telecom-Orange has actively contributed to the development of Wi-Fi hotspot certification, which is set to significantly improve user experience by facilitating connectivity in hotspots," said Rida Zouaoui, head of access networks standardisation of France Telecom-Orange. "By developing carrier-grade certification, this new generation of hotspots will allow Orange to provide Wi-Fi services that are both reliable and user-friendly. In addition, SIM-based authentication will enhance security and accessibility to Orange Wi-Fi hotspots, especially when roaming."

The planned launch of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED hotspot certification program is targeted for the first half of 2012.