ORLANDO, Fla.--As Wi-Fi becomes an integral part of mobile operators' networks for data offload, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that it has formalized a set of industry market requirements to kick start a new Wi-Fi certification program that address authentication and provisioning for public Wi-Fi networks.
Some operators, such as AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), already support auto-authentication on its own hotspots, but the Wi-Fi Alliance is aiming to ensure that users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers in an automated, cellular-like experience for Wi-Fi users.
"We have undergone formal work to drive the hotspot experience away from the world of lengthly web forms and passcards and credit cards to align with the cellular network today," Kelly Davis-Fellner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, told FierceBroadbandWireless. "The nice thing is that the program is essentially taking mature technologies for Wi-Fi in the enterprise environment and bringing that to the world of hotspots."
The Wi-Fi Alliance, which has been welcoming operators into the fold to address the issue, is aiming to test devices by the third quarter. The goal is two-fold: To auto-authenticate users at hotspots and to enable roaming among carrier hotspots so that, for instance, an AT&T subscriber traveling in the United Kingdom could automatically roam on a BT hotspot.
In addition to standardizing hotspot authentication and provisioning, the Wi-Fi Alliance hotspot program will also facilitate the seamless handoff of cellular traffic from smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics to Wi-Fi.
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