Operators prepare for next-gen Wi-Fi hotspots

Staff Writer
06 Mar 2012

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving the next-generation Wi-Fi experience, announced that many of the world's largest operators and vendors have successfully participated in trials of Next Generation Hotspots (NGHs) that drastically simplify Wi-Fi hotspot access.

The WBA expects the first NGH deployments to take place over the next 12 months and will be organizing trials of more advanced technology features in second half of the year.

NGHs are easier for users to find and use because, like the cellular network, devices can securely automatically connect with no need for users manually entering usernames or passwords. This overcomes the issue of users knowing which hotspots they can access or how to connect.

It also allows mobile operators, which increasingly have their own or partner hotspot networks, to offload many more users from their busy mobile broadband networks. The new hotspots feature similar levels of security to the cellular network including end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM authentication.

The aim of the WBA trials was to test the NGH requirements for network discovery and selection, security, automatic authentication in a production environment on, and between, different operators' actual networks using equipment and devices from various vendors. It also aimed to identify and recommend how best to implement automatic authentication and the measures needed to upgrade home networks to NGH.

The trials also made the NGH service requirements, developed by the operator-led WBA, available to vendors that use the HotSpot 2.0 device standards from the vendor led Wi-Fi alliance. Together these help to define how to practically turn the latest Wi-Fi technology into the best possible operator hotspot services, the WBA said.

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