Support for HotSpot 2.0 Release 2 is gathering momentum as more vendors and service providers are expected to roll out the technology.
Often referred to as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, HotSpot 2.0 is the standard for Wi-Fi public access that automates and secures the connection. The idea is to make it easier for consumers to roam using Wi-Fi, similar to how it's done with cellular so that the user doesn't have to do anything to make it work.
Whereas Release 1 of the standard introduced new capabilities for automatic Wi-Fi network discovery, selection and 802.1X authentication based on the Access Network Query Protocol (ANQP), Release 2 adds more complexity in back-end services related to provisioning and credentialing.
"Release 2 is largely focused on standardizing the management of the credentials; how they're provisioned, how they're stored on the device, how they're used in network selection, as well as how long they are valid," explains Dave Wright, technical marketing director for Ruckus Wireless, in the company's blog.
Ruckus was among the vendors that participated in the Wi-Fi Alliance's test bed at a conference in San Francisco earlier this month. Ruckus performed the public demonstration of Release 2 at the launch event. The Ruckus SmartCell Gateway and Zoneflex access points have been certified for Passpoint Release 2.
Fortunately this time around, the client support is happening sooner rather than later. Release 1 of HotSpot 2.0/Passpoint was ratified by the Wi-Fi Alliance in June of 2012, and the vendor community had to wait almost a year until the first commercially available clients came out that were Release 1 certified or compatible, he said.
"It wasn't really until the Samsung Galaxy S4 came out, that was the first commercially available device that supported it. So there's like this year with Release 1 where we had a bunch of Ruckus and Cisco and Aruba and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC)--we all had gear that was certified, but there just weren't any clients to do anything with, so we all waited," he said. "Then Samsung came out with their support and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), very importantly, introduced support for Release 1 when iOS 7 came out in fall of last year.
"What's different this time with Release 2 is that we actually have a lot more involvement of the device manufacturers and the chipset vendors or device chipset vendors that have been very involved in the development of Release 2," he said, noting that the Wi-Fi Alliance has been working on this for the last couple of years.
Samsung already has two models of the Galaxy S5 that have been Release 2 certified, and there are a number of certified chipset reference designs available from companies like MediaTek, Broadcom, Qualcomm Atheros and Marvell. Intel also has received certification for its 7260.HMWG adapter, according to Wright.
"We expect the client support to happen a lot sooner than it did with Release 1," he said. "My personal opinion is it will be Q2 of 2015 when we start seeing probably client support available in people's pockets."
Ruckus works with the likes of AT&T (NYSE: T), Boingo and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), each of which has marked important Wi-Fi developments of late.
Earlier this month, AT&T launched its Wi-Fi roaming hub service in partnership with Accuris and BSG. Boingo has turned up HotSpot 2.0 service at 26 airports and is pursuing roaming agreements with other hotspot operators like Time Warner Cable. Earlier this year, Time Warner Cable announced plans for a massive Hotspot 2.0 deployment.
A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman confirmed to FierceWirelessTech that the company plans to adopt Release 2 as it becomes available from its infrastructure partners. No further details on an expected timeframe were available.
- see this Ruckus blog
Cable sees big future in Wi-Fi as video gives way to OTT, high programming costs
AT&T strikes agreements with Accuris, BSG to deliver Wi-Fi Hub solution
Wi-Fi Alliance's new Passpoint features ease login process, support preferred providers
Time Warner announces massive Hotspot 2.0 deployment