This is a customer perspective guest blog contributed by Zack Sterngold, Boingo Wireless Vice President, Americas.
The vision for a simple, seamless and secure Wi-Fi connectivity experience became a reality timed to this year’s Mobile World Congress. And by design, this major milestone was simple, unobtrusive and even invisible to those who weren’t looking for it.
Years in development, Next Generation Hotspot protocol trials have been put to the test at industry conferences around the world, from Beijing to Paris, to the first commercial Next Generation Hotspot test bed at Chicago O’Hare Airport, launched by Boingo in late 2013. At MWC 2014, Cisco, AT&T and Accuris partnered to bring a Hotspot 2.0 network to the Fira Gran Via, reaching the largest audience of industry influencers ever.
Halfway around the world, the Boingo team made a bold move. The time for limiting easy, secure Next Generation Hotspot connectivity to the industry elite had passed. The time had come to invite the multitude of consumers looking for fast, seamless connectivity to experience the future of wireless.
On February 24, Boingo launched “Passpoint Secure” networks at more than 20 airports throughout the United States serving a collective total of more than 445 million passengers annually. These include some of the most highly trafficked airports in the world, such as Los Angeles International (LAX), New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK), and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) airports. The airport networks are currently accessible to Boingo subscribers using Passpoint-capable Apple mobile devices running iOS 7 and Macintosh laptops running Mavericks OS X (10.9) and run on the Cisco Service Provider Wi-Fi solution.
The new networks eliminate the need for webpage redirects, login screens and apps for users on Passpoint-capable devices with a Passpoint profile installed. Once a profile is installed, users’ devices will simply connect in the blink of an eye, allowing busy travelers to get their content, fast and hassle-free. Boingo launched a consumer-friendly site to educate subscribers about Next Generation Hotspot and allow them to download their Passpoint profile with one quick step. Already, thousands of Boingo customers have connected to one of our Passpoint-enabled airports.
To launch the new Passpoint-enabled networks, Boingo upgraded or enhanced each airport network with Cisco’s solution with Passpoint-certified equipment to ensure compliance and ample capacity to handle in the influx of traffic from seamless offload. Cisco’s Wi-Fi network is made of Wi-Fi certified Passpoint access points and controllers, based on the Hotspot 2.0 specification. The solution features self-configuring, self-optimizing and self-healing intelligence across the network, offering self-optimizing network (SON) performance over Wi-Fi. Though the Boingo “Passpoint Secure” networks are now available in locations serving nearly half a billion people, this is just the first phase of Hotspot 2.0 network roll out. Boingo plans to introduce new locations and new operating system support this year.
We believe that this is also just the first step toward more widespread adoption of the Next Generation Hotspot standards. Companies like KT and Time Warner Cable have also started to offer Passpoint network access to their users. These networks get customers connected instantly and invisibly to fast, secure Wi-Fi – from a consumer perspective, what’s not to like?
Cisco’s Visual Networking Index findings from February 2014 project a growing need for offload on 4G, as these networks attract more high-usage devices. With data consumption projected to increase steadily to more than 15 exabytes per month by the year 2018, the new “Passpoint Secure” networks provide a high-traffic, high-density real world environment for data offload testing and implementation by carriers, manufacturers and new wireless ecosystem players like cable companies.
With pioneering deployments and new support from major players, 2014 is shaping up to be a game-changing year for Next Generation Hotspot.
Let the invisible revolution begin.