The Wi-Fi Alliance, you know - the guys which certifies your WiFi equipped PCs and smartphones with the WiFi certified logo, today announced an initiative to transform the user experience in hotspots. Service providers and device manufacturers in the organization have formalized a set of industry market requirements that will lay the foundation for a new Wi-Fi Certified testing program that addresses authentication and provision of service for public WiFi networks. It's aiming to ensure that end users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers by envisioning an automated, cellular-like experience for WiFi users around the world.
The Wi-Fi Alliance hotspot program will also facilitate the seamless handoff of cellular traffic from data-hungry smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics to WiFi, helping service providers manage demands on constrained licensed spectrum. Data volume over cellular networks is forecast to nearly double from 2011 to 2012, reaching 4.56 million terabytes. In an effort to address this trend, many service providers have recently announced expanded WiFi hotspot deployment plans. As a result, the number of hotspots worldwide is expected to more than double by 2014, from the current estimate of 750,000.
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.
- WPA2 Security: Over-the-air transmissions are encrypted using the latest-generation security technology.
- 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
However, it's still a long way to go since the Wi-Fi Alliance plans to launch the Wi-Fi Certified hotspot certification program in the first half of 2012.
Cheers ~ Arne