SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- Boingo added two airports to its Hotspot 2.0 trial, bringing the total to 23. But wireless operators are still approaching the authentication technology with varying degrees of interest.
Boingo Wireless Inc. CTO Derek Peterson announced the Hotspot 2.0 expansion at a Fierce Wireless breakfast on Wednesday morning, noting that those who download a profile to their Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) Mac or iPhone will automatically connect to a network when they enter one of the participating airports. (See Boingo Expands Hotspot 2.0 to 21 Airports and Hotspot 2.0 Makes Slow & Steady Progress.)
Boingo has been an early proponent of Hotspot 2.0, which automatically connects users to carrier-grade WiFi networks, but his fellow panelists are taking a more cautious approach to the two-year old standard. (See Boingo: Carrier WiFi Offload Still a Year Out and WiFi Passpoint: Ready for Prime Time.)
Scratch Wireless CEO Alan Berrey, for one, said the jury is still out on Hotspot 2.0 -- or at least the operators' role in it. He is looking to cable operators for guidance more so than mobile operators, as they've deployed fiber and "have a vested interest in keeping their customers on their network" he said. Cable WiFi is taking off and he believes it will be a major force with one million access points planned this year. (See Scratch Wireless Eyes International Expansion and Momentum Mounts for Cable WiFi.)
"If I can get a device, like a tablet, and network and connect it to my home service, then I'm less interested in a standardized 2.0," he said.
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) CTO Stephen Bye was more reticent when it came to Sprint's involvement in the standard. "We'll watch it; we're not driving it," he said, noting that any new technology has the same adoption curve. "But we'll take advantage of it when it's there." (See Stephen Bye: Sprint's Network Visionary.)
Even if operators don't throw their support behind Hotspot 2.0, device makers already have. Peterson pointed out that they can just as easily put a profile in their handsets that connects to WiFi on its own, cutting the operators out of the equation. (See iOS 7: The Next-Gen Hotspot Game Changer .)
"Inevitably, it's going to happen," Peterson said of Hotspot 2.0. "People want to get connected. The user experience will drive it."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading