Cisco Systems: New Generation of Wi-fi Hotspots Coming

April 1, 2013

Apr 1, 2013 - When I think Wi-fi access point I usually imagine sitting in a coffee shop or at the airport, logging on to some organization's free Wi-fi and sitting around for a while. In a sense you are tethered to your spot and the WAP (or hotspot) you logged in to -- at least if you are on a computer. What if you could move around -- going from WAP to WAP (even across organizational boundaries) without even giving a moment's notice, while log-ins happen in the background? Are there implications for broadcasters and other content providers?

From the latest Cisco Newsroom feature comes word that this type of Wi-fi will be available soon. The next generation Wi-fi access point is described thus: "One where you do not have to bother with passwords or signup pages or even finding out whether it is there. You will be using it before you even know it. The idea behind next-generation hotspots is simple: to make their use as seamless as the experience you currently have on the cellular network with your mobile phone." And further: "Part of the deal is that next-generation systems will also be able to distinguish whether you, the user, will get a better deal from connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot or staying on the mobile network. Mobile service providers are keen to take advantage of the technology in order to reduce their costs and provide a better service to customers, which in turn can improve customer loyalty and average revenue per user, two of the biggest concerns for phone companies."

The article goes on to say that these upgrades won't be accomplished overnight. New access points, routers and controllers that support automated authentication will need to be deployed. Sony and Nokia are just beginning to provide devices that use subscriber identity module authentication.

Finally, the article quotes Tiago Rodrigues of the Wireless Broadband Alliance: "You also need policy technology; if you just offload everything from the mobile network onto a Wi-Fi hotspot then you simply overload a different network. Operators have to know when to switch a customer from one network technology to another."

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