Next-generation hotspot launches to stimulate Wi-Fi offloading

Initial deployments of Next Generation Hotspots (NGH) are expected to occur over the next year, according to the Wireless Broadband Alliance.

NGHs bridge the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular networks in that they can securely and securely automatically connect with no need for users to manually enter usernames or passwords. The new hotspots feature similar levels of security to the cellular network including end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM authentication. NGH technology is expected to help mobile operators offload many more users from their mobile broadband networks.

The complementary relationship between Wi-Fi and mobile networks is finally becoming a reality. Next Generation Hotspots allow smartphones and tablets to automatically roam from the cellular network on to Wi-Fi hotspots thereby augmenting the coverage and capacity of both," said Chris Bruce, WBA chair.

The operator-led WBA recently concluded NGH trials with major industry vendors and mobile operators, including AT&T (NYSE:T), BT, China Mobile, DOCOMO InterTouch, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, PCCW Mobile, Portugal Telecom, Smart Communications, Swisscom, TeliaSonera  and True.

The trials concerned network discovery and selection, security, automatic authentication in a production environment on, and between, different operators' actual networks using equipment and devices from various vendors. It also aimed to identify and recommend how best to implement automatic authentication and the measures needed to upgrade home networks to NGH. The trials also made the NGH service requirements available to vendors who use the HotSpot 2.0 device standards from the vendor-led Wi-Fi alliance.

The WBA said it will organize trials of advanced NGH features in the second half of 2012.

For more:
- see this WBA release
- see this Telecompetitor article
- see this GigaOm article

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