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WiFi Passpoint: Ready for Prime Time

Carrier WiFi is surging forward. Operators across the globe are deploying and managing their own carrier WiFi infrastructures, partnering with other operators to expand coverage, and increasing their reliance on WiFi access to improve their subscribers' experience and deliver valuable services.

Recent data from ABI Research reflects the growing trend toward the deployment of operator-managed WiFi networks, with carrier WiFi access point shipments expected to reach 9.7 million in 2018.

WiFi Certified Passpoint was launched in 2012 as an industry-wide solution to streamline network access and eliminate the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they connect. Passpoint-certified equipment delivers enterprise-grade WPA2 security seamlessly and was developed in the Wi-Fi Alliance through partnerships between mobile device manufacturers, network equipment vendors, and operators. Passpoint reflects the depth and breadth of that collaboration as a great solution for end users, network operators, and device vendors.

Before the program launched, we observed Passpoint gaining quiet momentum as a necessary element of carrier WiFi. Now that Passpoint has launched, it is having an immediate impact and it is delivering value to operators in the following ways:

  • Supports data offload with instant network detection, selection, and authentication
  • Increases customer satisfaction and reduces churn
  • Offers best-in-class security for SIM and non-SIM devices alike
  • Is a key ingredient to WiFi roaming standards currently taking shape

There are more than 75 Passpoint-certified mobile products available today. Commercially available devices range from high-end to mid-level smartphones and tablets, and include a wide variety of brands, such as Samsung Corp. , LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Pantech Co. Ltd. , and AsusTek Computer Inc. , as well as the major operating systems.

The Alliance has certified infrastructure equipment from nearly all the major vendors, and Boingo Passpoint, launched this year at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, is an example of Passpoint-certified equipment providing seamless WiFi access in a demanding operator environment. As the industry collaborates on an industry-standard for seamless WiFi roaming, the value and role of Passpoint will only continue to increase.

Operators are embracing WiFi. The WiFi ecosystem is helping to further enable carrier WiFi with solutions such as Passpoint. WiFi will become more seamlessly integrated into service provider networks. We can surely expect WiFi to continue to be a ubiquitous thread through multiple generations of operator networks in the future.

– Edgar Figueroa, President & CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance

[email protected] 11/18/2013 | 3:37:53 PM
Security implications? What are the security implications for a mobile network operator of having thousands of 802.11x access points as part of an extended network?
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