Contributed By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Marketing, Mobility Solutions
On the edge of Paris this week, a group of Wi-Fi experts gathered for a historic occasion - one they’ll be able to tell their grandchildren about.
It was the 19th Roundtable Conference of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).
The occasion was the launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials. These trials will set the stage for the future of Wi-Fi, establishing it as a robust, secure technology that will augment and complement 3G and 4G networks for years to come.
Next Generation Hotspot is based on the concept that Wi-Fi networks should be as safe and easy to access as cellular networks. Some of the base specifications for network discovery (IEEE 802.11u), authentication (IEEE 802.1x), and security (IEEE 802.11i) were well underway. The cellular example of using SIM cards for user identification and using roaming hubs for inter-carrier negotiation and billing were then applied and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) specification for Hotspot 2.0 was a result.
The trials also represent a historic cooperation between the WBA, WFA, and GSMA. The WFA will hold a series of test events that will allow vendors to test and certify against the specification, and the WBA will carry out the trials in operator networks. Twenty-seven operators, vendors and roaming hubs have signed up for the trials. The trial results will be provided to the GSMA for harmonization with 3GPP standards.
At the WBA conference, Cisco and multiple partners demonstrated the world’s first prototype of Next Generation Hotspot with the latest smartphone devices from Samsung and HTC as well as Intel’s latest Advanced-N 6230 Wireless LAN card. Using EAP-SIM, and roaming hubs Aicent and Accuris, the audience was able to see auto discovery and selection of eligible home and roaming Wi-Fi access points for unattended roaming across several operator networks, including True, PCCW, and conference host Orange, bringing the vision of Next Generation Hotspot to reality.
Paris is not only a city of light and love. It’s a city that gave birth to the future of Wi-Fi this week. Paris, je t’aime.