AT&T says it's counting on next-generation hotspot technology to support new WiFi services and enhance its multimode small cell plans.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

February 26, 2014

2 Min Read
AT&T: Hotspot 2.0 Integral to Multimode Small Cells

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- AT&T sees Hotspot 2.0 as an enabler of new WiFi services and an integral part of its multimode small cell strategy, according to its head of network planning.

Speaking at the Wireless Broadband Alliance 's Carrier WiFi conference, collocated with MWC, Kris Rinne, senior vice president of network at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), expounded on AT&T's future plans for WiFi, including those for the emerging standard Hotspot 2.0. (See CTIA: AT&T Works on Wi-Fi Integration.)

Figure 1: WiFi, Why Not? Kris Rinne, AT&T SVP of network and product planning, explains why the carrier is banking on WiFi in a 4G world. Kris Rinne, AT&T SVP of network and product planning, explains why the carrier is banking on WiFi in a 4G world.

Hotspot 2.0, also known as Passpoint by the Wi-Fi Alliance (or next-generation hotspot by the type of people who say next-generation), is a technology that automatically connects users to supported WiFi networks without the need to log in or enter credentials. It's been in the works for two years now, but is finally gaining some traction with wireless operators. (See WiFi Roaming: The Technical Considerations and Boingo Expands Hotspot 2.0 to 21 Airports.)

Rinne said AT&T will use Hotspot 2.0 to bring new services across its existing WiFi infrastructure, although she didn't elaborate on what those services might entail. The carrier is trialing the authentication protocol here at the show with attendees on compatible iPhones or Androids, and it plans to include it in its future multimode small cells. (See Carrier WiFi: The Handoff Tradeoff.)

"We've been focused on UMTS/HSPA small cells for enterprise and venue locations, but we are beginning to start testing multi-standard capabilities to have the same box support LTE, multiple bands, and WIFi with Hotspot 2.0 integration," she told attendees. (See AT&T: Multimode Small Cells by Early 2015.)

AT&T is clearly betting big on multimode small cells and has said in the past that all of its future small cells will include WiFi, but Rinne also made it clear that it's looking at each particular location individually. If an enterprise already had a private WiFi network up and running, it might consider a cellular solution. Intelligent network selection will also take into account clients on the device, DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) capabilities, and security, she said. (See WiFi: Small Cells' Trojan Horse? and MWC 2014: Single-Mode 4G Small Cells Ahoy?)

"We are in the very, very early stages in how we look at this and integrate it," Rinne said of the different networks. "There's lots going on in the standards areas in terms of driving those different options."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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