Hotspot 2.0 - Top Wireless Technologies in 2013

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What is it?
In June 2011 the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance--which represents mobile operators, cable companies and others wanting to deploy service-provider-grade Wi-Fi networks--combined their resources to address Wi-Fi hotspot roaming and authentication. Under the teaming, the Wi-Fi Alliance's planned certification program for Wi-Fi equipment was combined with the WBA's inter-operator Wi-Fi roaming efforts. The alliance started working on a Wi-Fi hotspot program, known as Hotspot 2.0, to ensure that Wi-Fi devices can easily connect to hotspots in a security-protected, interoperable way.

Hotspot 2.0 got started because carriers looking to offload data traffic onto Wi-Fi hotspots wanted the same security and roaming features on those Wi-Fi hotspots as they do on their mobile networks. In March 2012 the GSMA and WBA came together to create a framework to make roaming between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots more seamless.

Why is it important?
By June 2012 the Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint program, based on the Hotspot 2.0 specification, launched with a broad set of approved devices from leading companies such as Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) BelAir Networks unit, Broadcom, Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). In January AT&T (NYSE:T) launched an international roaming program that was the first to automatically connect customers to Wi-Fi hotspots via SIM authentication when roaming abroad, setting the stage for future business models based on Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint and Next Generation Hotspots (NGH). Meanwhile, Qualcomm's Atheros business and Cisco Systems are hyping Hotspot 2.0 as not only an offload solution but also a way to deliver customized, location-based services for vertical market segments and enterprises.

By allowing Passpoint-certified mobile devices to automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, Hotspot 2.0 offers carriers a more secure and reliable way to offload traffic.