It's a holiday gift from Time Warner Cable and Boingo Wireless to WiFi users.
The two companies announced today that they've launched what's billed as the first reciprocal Passpoint roaming agreement, allowing Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) subscribers to tap into thousands of Boingo Wireless Inc. 's WiFi hotspots, and vice versa. Because the hotspots are Passpoint-enabled, customers can create a Passpoint profile once and then automatically connect to WiFi at any participating hotspot location with an iOS device without signing in again. In the news announcement, Time Warner Cable and Boingo described it as "similar to how cellular networks roam today."
Boingo customers previously had access to more than 60,000 Time Warner Cable hotspots thanks to an earlier roaming agreement, but the reverse was not true until today. Boingo brings some high-profile hotspots to the deal, including locations at top airports around the US. Chicago's O'Hare International, Los Angeles International, Austin-Bergstrom International and New York's John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports are all part of Boingo's footprint.
The Passpoint program -- also called the Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) initiative -- is part of a broader effort by the cable industry and WiFi associations to upgrade current best-effort WiFi deployments to carrier-grade wireless connections. In addition to smoothing out the authentication process, carrier-grade WiFi should improve quality-of-service controls, including mechanisms for traffic management and prioritization.
The program got a boost in October when the Wi-Fi Alliance added online sign-up and immediate account provisioning, secure registration protocols and transferable subscriber policies that can be carried across multiple hotspot locations. (See Passpoint Moves Towards Carrier WiFi.)
Currently, Time Warner Cable has the largest Passpoint-enabled network in the US, thanks to a decision to bring Hotspot 2.0 technology to the majority of its WiFi hotspots. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has the largest overall cable WiFi network in the country with close to 5 million hotspots. (See US MSOs Near 10 Million Hotspots.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading