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Wireless Industry Launches Global Hotspot Initiative

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced on Tuesday that it is now testing mobile devices and infrastructure equipment for its global Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint program. Passpoint mobile devices can automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, enabling a login-free broadband-like experience.

"The launch of the certification program means that there is finally a single industry-wide solution for seamless access to Wi-Fi mobile broadband, and providers can leverage Passpoint as a foundation to rapidly expand Wi-Fi roaming agreements," the Alliance said. "With multi-provider Wi-Fi roaming, subscribers can enjoy seamless connectivity in even more hotspots than those provided by their own service."

So what does this mean for the end user? Eventually devices like smartphones, tablets and notebooks will be able to identify and associate with Passpoint networks in the background, without any active intervention from the subscriber. Authentication won't require a browser-based sign-on, or require the subscriber to enter a password. Devices will be authenticated automatically, using Extensible Authentication Protocols (EAP) based on a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), a username and password, or certificate credentials.

"In addition to making it easy for end users to connect, hotspots equipped with Passpoint-certified equipment automatically enable enterprise-grade WPA2 security. The Passpoint certification program is based on technology defined in the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification," the Alliance said.

The first products to be designated Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, and which form the test suite for the certification program, are the BelAir 20E, Broadcom's Dualband 11n WiFi and Dual Band 802.11n Access Point, Cisco's CT2500 Series WLAN Controller and LAP1260 Series Access Point, Intel's Centrino Advanced-N 6230, and the Marvell Plug – 88W8787 802.11 a/b/g/n Reference Design.

Also on the list is MediaTek's Hotspot 2.0 Client V1, Qualcomm's Atheros Dual-Band XSPAN 3-Stream 802.11n Access Point and Dual-Band XSPAN 2-stream 802.11n WLAN Adapter, and the Wireless ZoneFlex 7363 and ZoneDirector 1100 from Ruckuss Wireless.

"The availability of certified Passpoint equipment will give service providers an opportunity to improve the Wi-Fi discovery and connection experience for their customers and will help mobile network operators offload data traffic to Wi-Fi in a seamless, secure, and scalable manner,” said Tom Nagel, Senior Vice President at Comcast. “We are pleased to have contributed to this new standard."

For more information about the Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, head here.