By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Marketing, Mobility Solutions
In the blink of an eye, a Hotspot 2.0 industry milestone was achieved last week. Cisco joined with China Mobile and 15 other operators to provide a Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) Experience to over 400 attendees at the WBA Wi-Fi Global Congress in Beijing.
The NGH Experience included:
- A fully deployed NGH network, provided by Cisco
- Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint devices from Samsung, Apple, LG and Mediatek
- NGH Wi-Fi roaming with 15 global operators through the host operator China Mobile and local hubs Aicent and BSG. The participating operators were AT&T, Bell Mobility, Boingo Wireless, BT, CableLabs, FON Wireless, KT, NTT DOCOMO, Orange France, SK Telecom, Time Warner Cable, Portugal Telecom, Towerstream, and True International.
- Location-based services provided by Cisco partners RTMAP and Phunware.
This incredible milestone was achieved in the blink of an eye because that’s just how easy it was for Congress attendees to securely authenticate onto the NGH network with a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint device like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Apple iPhone 5. Once on the network, we could take advantage of location-based services offered through applications in both Chinese and English, including wayfinding, notices about the event, and information about where to go and what to see in Beijing.
Two short years ago I wrote about the WBA launch of NGH roaming trials in Paris. One year ago I noted that NGH was Just a Device Away. Today, with 9 million iPhone 5’s sold in September on launch weekend alone, and with Samsung’s longstanding support for Passpoint, there are now tens of millions of Passpoint devices available in the market.
We’ve always maintained that Next Generation Hotspot is just the beginning for carrier-grade Wi-Fi. Once users can securely roam onto the Wi-Fi network as easily as they do on the cellular network, operators can start offering a host of new services that take advantage of the indoor location information and analytics uniquely provided by Wi-Fi. We gave attendees a small glimpse into some of those services in Beijing. I’m really looking forward to 2014 – the year we expect NGH to gain a commercial foothold. First stop: Mobile World Congress, where AT&T Services VP JR Wilson announced that AT&T and Cisco will offer a Next Generation Hotspot network to the 75,000+ attendees.