The Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint program launched with a broad set of approved devices from leading companies such as Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) BelAir Networks unit, Broadcom, Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). All of the devices on the list constitute a new test bed of products that will be used by the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability testing of future Passpoint devices.
The Wi-Fi Alliance ran something of a competition among vendors that wanted their products to be part of the initial Passpoint test suite, Edgar Figueroa, Wi-Fi Alliance CEO, told FierceBroadbandWireless. "We involved the whole industry to arrive at the products" on this initial list, he said.
The first group of certified Passpoint products "has become now the reference set for the industry," Figueroa said. "Everything that we certify will need to interoperate with every device on this list."
The full list of products achieving initial certification includes:
Broadcom Dualband 11n WiFi and Dual Band 802.11n Access Point
Cisco CT2500 Series WLAN Controller and LAP1260 Series Access Point
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230
Marvell Plug – 88W8787 802.11 a/b/g/n Reference Design
MediaTek Hotspot 2.0 Client V1
Qualcomm Atheros Dual-Band XSPAN 3-Stream 802.11n Access Point and Dual-Band XSPAN 2-stream 802.11n WLAN Adapter
Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 7363 and ZoneDirector 1100
The Wi-Fi Alliance's Passpoint certification program is based upon technology defined in the group's Hotspot 2.0 specification. Passpoint-certified mobile devices can automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, and hotspots equipped with Passpoint-certified equipment automatically enable enterprise-grade WPA2 security.
"Gaining access to Wi-Fi has become a lot easier. You are going to getting a better experience simply because your device is going to have more intelligence built into it so it can select the best possible Wi-Fi network," Figueroa said.
In addition, the automatic WPA2 security included in Passpoint will open the door for consumers to engage in sensitive transactions, such as electronic banking, that they should not perform at unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots, Figueroa said.
Of course, one major benefit of the Passpoint program is that it makes it easier for mobile service providers to offload data traffic from cellular networks to Wi-Fi networks. In addition, service providers can leverage Passpoint as a foundation to rapidly expand Wi-Fi roaming agreements.
"Service providers want to roll this out, not only because consumers want it, but because it will enable roaming and higher quality of service, said Figueroa.
"We work extremely closely with the Wi-Fi Alliance and welcome the availability of Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint equipment, which will simplify Wi-Fi hotspot access," said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. "We are happy to announce that major telcos and vendors are participating in our expanded Next Generation Hotspot trials that aim to actively support service providers in deploying seamless offload and end-to-end interoperability using commercially-ready Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint equipment and to establish global best practices for the community of operators."
Comcast, which recently banded with four other leading cable TV companies to create a nationwide Wi-Fi roaming network for their subscribers, also lent support to the Passpoint certification effort. "The availability of certified Passpoint equipment will give service providers an opportunity to improve the Wi-Fi discovery and connection experience for their customers and will help mobile network operators offload data traffic to Wi-Fi in a seamless, secure and scalable manner," said Tom Nagel, Comcast senior vice president.
The Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint program was developed by the largest working group ever formed in the Wi-Fi Alliance, with widespread support helping the certification program meet its deadlines. "We have executed the plan. We always intended to launch around this date," said Figueroa.
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