News by Dan Seifert on Tuesday March 22, 2011.
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The Wi-Fi Alliance, the trade association that certifies devices to use the Wi-Fi protocol, has announced the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Hotspot program, an effort to make connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots easier for travelers.
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED introduces a new way of connecting to a hotspot by utilizing roaming agreements between carriers, and authorizing a device automatically. Customers who are visiting an area that is not covered by their carrier will be able to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot that is run by a different carrier. Their device will connect to the hotspot through WPA2 encryption for a secure connection. It will then automatically be authenticated and provisioned for use immediately. Credentials to login can be stored on the device itself or on a carrier provisioned SIM card. Customers will no longer have to go through a lengthy sign-in process to gain connection to a hotspot.
This type of certification system provides benefits to both carriers and consumers alike. Consumers can benefit from reduced roaming rates as they can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot when traveling instead of using a cellular connection on their phone or tablet. They also benefit from ease of access and a secure connection so they do not have to worry about their private information being available at a public hotspot. Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, states: "Ensuring end users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers is a win for subscribers, service providers and device makers alike. We envision an automated, cellular-like experience for Wi-Fi users around the world in security-protected service provider hotspots."
Carriers, on the other hand, can benefit from offloading traffic from their cellular networks to the more robust Wi-Fi hotspot to ease strain and congestion on the cellular networks. Ray Smets, vice president and general manager of the Wireless Networking business unit at Cisco says that "by supporting the Wi-Fi Alliance certification, service providers can more easily optimize their networks by offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi and help deliver a better mobile experience to their end customers." So far, carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon, BT, AT&T, Vodafone, and Rogers are members of the Wi-Fi Alliance and on-board with this initiative.
The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to launch Wi-Fi CERTIFIED for Hotspots in the first half of 2012. It will be interesting to see if this does make finding and connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots easier when traveling and how this will affect services such as Boingo that provide hotspot access and tools for a fee. For more information, you can visit www.wi-fi.org.source: Sprint, via: BGR
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.