WiFi alliance begins hardware testing on Passpoint cell-to-hotspot roaming programIt was over a year ago now that we heard about the WiFi Alliance's intention to certify hotspots and simplify the potential for mobile handovers. Now, it's just announced hardware testing of its WiFi-CERTIFIED Passpoint program, which promises to let phones and mobile devices automatically discover and connect to compatible networks. The specification used is the result of cooperation between service providers and equipment manufacturers, with the aim of creating an industry-wide solution for shared WiFi access and roaming agreements. Already hardware from the likes of Cisco, Intel, MediaTek and Qualcomm has received Passpoint certification, leaving the ball in the court of service providers, once testing is complete.

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Launch Of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ Enables A New Era In Service Provider Wi-Fi®

Wi-Fi Alliance® solution delivers secure, easy-to-use mobile Wi-Fi
WI-FI ALLIANCE LOGO. (PRNewsFoto/Wi-Fi Alliance)
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AUSTIN, Texas, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Wi-Fi® industry has delivered a major milestone in the technology's evolution as an operator-grade network. The Wi-Fi Alliance® is now testing mobile devices and infrastructure equipment for its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ program. Passpoint mobile devices can automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, delivering the true mobile broadband experience that users want.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20070516/SFW029LOGO)

The specification behind Passpoint was defined by service provider and equipment maker members of the Wi-Fi Alliance to address critical business needs for mobile data, streamlined access and subscriber loyalty. As mobile users continue to increase their use of data-intensive applications, Passpoint eases service provider data traffic offload to Wi-Fi networks.

In addition to making it easy for end users to connect, hotspots equipped with Passpoint-certified equipment automatically enable enterprise-grade WPA2™ security. The Passpoint certification program is based on technology defined in the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification.

"Product manufacturers partnered with service providers to develop the Passpoint program in the Wi-Fi Alliance," said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "Our organization has become a key collaboration forum driving Wi-Fi's evolution in support of service providers."

The launch of the certification program means that there is finally a single industry-wide solution for seamless access to Wi-Fi mobile broadband, and providers can leverage Passpoint as a foundation to rapidly expand Wi-Fi roaming agreements. With multi-provider Wi-Fi roaming, subscribers can enjoy seamless connectivity in even more hotspots than those provided by their own service.

Wi-Fi Alliance recently conducted polling of smartphone and tablet users in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, China, and Korea to measure interest in easy-to-use mobile Wi-Fi. The results reflect strong user readiness to embrace Passpoint service offerings from providers among subscribers in each country. Among the findings:

Wi-Fi drives usage: On average, 74 percent of respondents stated they would use "a little" or "a lot" more data if they had unlimited data usage via easy-to-use Wi-Fi hotspots
Most would switch: On average, 77 percent of respondents also stated they would be likely to switch service providers, either immediately or at contract end, in order to access a Passpoint-like Wi-Fi offering, with 65 percent indicating a willingness to pay more per month for such an offering
Passpoint drives loyalty: Conversely, an average of 87 percent of respondents said they would definitely/probably stay with their current provider if a Passpoint-like offering were included in their plan

The first products to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint, and which form the test suite for the certification program, are:

BelAir 20E
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

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WiFi alliance begins hardware testing on Passpoint cell-to-hotspot roaming program