Time Warner Cable, Boingo lead the way in Passpoint roaming

Timed to coincide with the holiday travel season, Boingo Wireless and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) announced that Passpoint roaming is now available to their subscribers in the first such reciprocal Passpoint roaming of its kind.

The launch follows a roaming deal announced last summer that gave their customers bilateral roaming access. That earlier part of the deal, however, did not include the final Passpoint-enabled integration. Now that the Passpoint integration is complete, customers can connect seamlessly and securely with Passpoint-certified devices and account credentials without having to manually register or log in each time.

Passpoint was launched in 2012 and is based on the Wi-Fi Alliance's Hotspot 2.0 technical specification. Since then, "we started certifying products at a really good rate, and lots and lots of handsets were certified," said Kelly Davis-Felner, vice president of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance, in an interview with FierceWirelessTech.

But the other piece of the puzzle is operator deployment and service providers don't move quickly, so it's been a long time coming, but the real value of Passpoint comes with the types of roaming agreements that Boingo and TWC launched. "It makes a ton of sense for both Time Warner and for Boingo because it makes both of their networks more valuable to their subscribers," she said. 

Boingo subscribers can now access thousands of Time Warner Cable's Passpoint-enabled hotspots in cities like New York, Austin, Texas, and Kansas City. Passpoint roaming access will come to more cities, including Los Angeles and Charlotte, in early 2015. As the companies point out, Boingo customers already have access to TWC's more than 60,000 hotspots in major cities across the U.S., per the roaming partnership launched earlier this year.

TWC residential Internet customers with Standard Service and above, and all TWC Business Services Internet customers, can now seamlessly roam on to Boingo's "Passpoint Secure" Wi-Fi networks at 25 of the highest traffic airports in the U.S., including Chicago's O'Hare International, Los Angeles International, Austin-Bergstrom International and New York's John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports.

TWC and Boingo's Passpoint-enabled hotspots feature WPA2 enterprise-grade encryption technology. "Our Passpoint roaming integration with Boingo will keep our users connected to this advanced technology during their travels, helping us provide maximum wireless security to our TWC Internet consumers when they're surfing the Internet out of home," said Rob Cerbone, vice president of Wireless Product Management for Time Warner Cable, in a press release.

"The launch of reciprocal Passpoint roaming in the U.S. marks a significant milestone for the wireless industry, but more importantly it makes the best possible WiFi connectivity experience available to even more customers in key locations throughout the U.S.," said Derek Peterson, chief technology officer at Boingo, in the same release. "Our partnership with TWC gives our customers truly widespread access to simple, seamless and secure WiFi in key markets nationwide."

Boingo and Time Warner are certainly in the lead in deploying Passpoint, but "there's plenty of evidence" that the other big cable companies with Wi-Fi will want to do a similar thing, Davis-Felner told FierceWirelessTech. "I would expect to see other cable co's deploy a Passpoint network next year," she said, adding that as consumers become more savvy about online security and privacy, that might present opportunities for cable providers to differentiate themselves by providing Passpoint.

For more:
- see the press release
- see this FierceCable article
- see this GigaOm article

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