France Telecom (FT) Orange plans to launch Hotspot 2.0 services across France in the next few months.
This move follows the earlier launch of Hotspot 2.0 technology by rival SFR as operators look to provide subscribers with improved mobile data connectivity using a combination of Wi-Fi and macro networks.
With the backing of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), FT Orange will mimic SFR's Hotspot 2.0 service that allows the automatic authentication of the subscriber via the SIM card installed in a tablet, laptop or smartphone. Hotspot 2.0, officially the 802.11u standard, ensures that Wi-Fi devices can easily connect to hotspots in a security-protected, interoperable way.
Commenting on the impending launch, Cedric Gonin, vice president of the WBA and wireless broadband director with FT, told the French newspaper Les Echos: "The idea is to offer the same user experience no matter where you connect, much like what we did with the 3G standard. Whether you're in China or the United States, the experience is the same."
However, FT Orange has not detailed what plans are in place to upgrade its existing Wi-Fi network to support Hotspot 2.0 in order to allow its subscribers to be automatically authenticated and connected to the most appropriate Wi-Fi network.
A recent Informa Telecom & Media survey found that 47 per cent of mobile operators believe Wi-Fi hotspots are now vital to meet customer expectations, as well as relieving data traffic on cellular networks and to diversify revenue streams.
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)
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