Wi-Fi Alliance Makes Hotspot Roaming Easier With New Passpoint Features

Wireless broadband, Wi-Fi © 24Novembers, Shutterstock 2012

Wi-Fi Alliance makes it easier and secure to connect to wireless networks with Passpoint certification programme

The Wi-Fi Alliance has updated the specifications for its ‘Passpoint’ certification programme, which makes it easier for compatible devices to automatically log-in to public hotspot networks through a secure connection.

Devices certified to the Alliance’s Hotspot 2.0 level, can automatically discover and select networks, deliver a constant automated connection process, so users don’t have to keep putting in usernames and passwords, while benefiting from WPA2 security and inter-provider roaming agreements.

The end result is that users are passed from hotspot to hotspot in a similar manner to how devices are connected to different base stations when using a cellular connection.

Hotspot 2.0 features

Wi-Fi (c) marinini, Shuttersctock 2013The new features aim to make Passpoint even more easy to use. If a user does not have an account with a hotspot provider, or any of its operator partners, they can now create one securely on their device so they can be automatically connected.  The other major update is the ability for hotspot providers to distribute specific policies to users, dictating which network they should join and in which order.

Hundreds of devices have been certified, with providers such as Boingo, Orange and SK Telecom among those signed up to the programme, with 20 more operators participating in Wi-Fi roaming trials. Passpoint also has the support of equipment manufacturers and chip makers like Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm.

The Wi-Fi Alliance says Passpoint enables businesses to take advantage of offloading – the process of switching from a 4G or 3G connection to a Wi-Fi network in order to improve speed and capacity in areas with poor coverage and reduce costs, especially when abroad.

The organisation also believes it presents a chance for retailers to improve customer engagement, with its research indicating that customers are more likely to visit, stay in and return to stores with Wi-Fi.

“Enthusiasm for Passpoint from both mobile and fixed operators continues to mount, and the strategic value of Passpoint extends into new segments as well, says Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “What makes the new features exciting is that they empower businesses to realize the powerful commercial impact that Wi-Fi can offer by giving them the ability to engage with customers on a new platform in a secure and streamlined fashion.”

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