Ruckus Wireless have announced that it is demonstrating new wireless technology that revolutionises connecting to WiFi hotspots – making it as easy, seamless and secure as today’s cellular experience.
This new technology is based on a framework of features and specifications defined within the WiFi Alliance. The technology will be released in June 2012 as the WiFi CERTIFIED Passpoint certification programme from the WiFi Alliance.
“Historically, to connect to a hotspot, users have had to perform the arduous task of manually selecting from a number of WiFi networks that may or may not be able to provide them service and perform the tedious process of logging in with their user credentials,” says Michael Fletcher, sales director for Ruckus Wireless, sub-Saharan Africa.
“Using Passpoint-certified devices, this process will be completely automated. Passpoint-certified mobile devices automatically select a WiFi hotspot based on information advertised by Passpoint-certified WiFi access points. While roaming, mobile devices can identify hotspots supporting roaming with the user’s home service providers.
“If it is, the device automatically connects to the hotspot, securing the link with advanced WiFi security.”
According to Informa Telecoms and Media, the number of hotspots worldwide is expected to more than double from 2,1-million in 2012 to over 5,8-million by 2015. And in a January 2012 study, Mobia found nearly 70% of smartphone-originated data traffic was over WiFi, compared to 30% over cellular technology.
One of the first to integrate 802.11u within its smart WiFi access points, Ruckus has successfully completed interoperability testing with several operators and handset manufacturers around the world.
Support for 802.11u and the technology tested by the WiFi Alliance’s Passpoint certification programme will be available as a no-cost software upgrade on Ruckus ZoneFlex access points by the end of this year.
Many mobile device manufacturers and infrastructure suppliers, including Ruckus Wireless, are implementing these new WiFi capabilities within their equipment and have participated in trials under the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Next Generation Hotpots (NGH) initiative.
The WiFi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification that underlies the first phase of the Passpoint programme includes the automation of three typically manual processes:
* Discovering and selecting a WiFi network;
* Authenticating the user and device using the internal SIM (subscriber identity module) card found in many mobile devices (as well as support for non-SIM devices); and
* Securing the connection of each device using WPA-2 Enterprise encryption and authentication.
Operators around the world are embracing WiFi as means to inject much needed capacity into their mobile networks caused by the flood of data from new smart mobile devices.
The use of WiFi CERTIFIED Passpoint equipment will benefit service providers in a number of ways such as accelerating the offload of data from cellular networks to WiFi and reducing operational costs by providing a single WiFi network that can advertise support for multiple operators.
A leader in the market for carrier WiFi systems used for reliable WiFi public access, mobile data offload and wireless backhaul, Ruckus has worked closely with the WiFi Alliance to help advance the Passpoint programme.
“Support for Pass point within mobile devices and infrastructure is essential for making the widespread use of WiFi valuable to carriers and their customers,” says Steve Martin, CP of engineering for Ruckus Wireless.
“By automating and streamlining the process of connecting to a WiFi hotspot, service providers can look to advanced WiFi systems as a viable way to offload traffic and deliver high-bandwidth services – while subscribers will no longer have to face the frustration and aggravation of connecting to WiFi hotspots.”
“The WiFi Alliance has made significant progress in transforming and improving users’ WiFi experience, and we are happy to see suppliers, such as Ruckus Wireless, demonstrating the benefits of all this work,” says WiFi Alliance MD, Kelly Davis-Felner.
“We believe this is the first step in what will be a welcomed transformation of how users and operators interact with WiFi.”