Ruckus introduces Hotspot 2.0, Release 2 products

Ruckus Wireless is using the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) Wi-Fi Global Congress event in London to introduce what it calls the industry's first commercially available products to be Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) Passpoint certified for Hotspot 2.0, Release 2, setting the stage for a whole new way for organizations and users to connect to new public Wi-Fi network services.

Ruckus and others point out that despite Wi-Fi's popularity, connecting to public networks or hotspots can be a frustrating experience and subject to security concerns due to the lack of encryption and inability for a client device to validate the public network or hotspot. Release 2 introduces standardized credential management, so that it's easier for network operators to manage all devices and for consumers to use hotspots.

During the Wi-Fi Innovation Summit in San Mateo, Calif., last month, panelists lamented the difficulties presented when users try to sign in to their networks and the roadblocks created when it isn't a simple, seamless experience. The idea being that if users can't quickly and easily connect, they're going to go elsewhere. 

Validating the legitimacy of a hotspot is also part of Release 2, so users will know they're connecting to a valid certified hotspot.

Ruckus is in trials with more than a dozen operators around the world with Hotspot 2.0, and "Release 2 is right there," according to David Callisch, vice president of corporate marketing at Ruckus. Cable operators in particular are interested in Hotspot 2.0 because it gives them more of a wireless data mobility play that they're not known for right now.

In a feature unique to Ruckus, the company's products will offer the ability to use social media logins, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, to be automatically provisioned to a device, so users don't continually have to login when connecting to a Hotspot 2.0, Release 2 capable network. Ruckus provides a solution that supports legacy Hotspot 2.0, Release 1, and emerging Release 2 devices on the same network.

Hotspot 2.0 is one of the drivers of the Wi-Fi market, according to Infonetics Research, now part of IHS. By simplifying and securing the client connection experience while providing seamless roaming between disparate Wi-Fi networks, Hotspot 2.0 will have a profoundly positive impact, driving a new stage of Wi-Fi deployments, according to the research firm.

One caveat is there needs to be roaming agreements between operators, similar to how Boingo Wireless has a roaming agreement with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). More organizations like hotel chains and cities are expected to be part of those types of partnerships to enable roaming between Wi-Fi networks, similar to what happened in cellular.

As for handsets, client support for Release 2 is expected to happen a lot sooner than it did with Release 1. Ruckus now expects the first commercially available end-user devices to support Release 2 to be available in the third quarter of this year.

Boingo revealed recently that is it working with Apple, Microsoft and Google to get Passpoint onto handsets. Asked if those efforts include Release 2, Boingo gave the following statement to FierceWirelessTech: "Boingo is encouraging handset manufacturers to implement Passpoint on their devices, and the company is exploring R2 with them as part of our ongoing work."

For more:
- see the press release

Related Articles:
CEO: Boingo is working with Apple, Microsoft, Google to get Passpoint on handsets
Summit take-away: Wi-Fi's still got a quality of service issue
Private WiFi aims to keep public, private connections secure
Time Warner Cable, Ruckus and others voice support for Release 2 of HotSpot 2.0

Article updated May 18 to include additional information from Boingo.