Feature Article

October 09, 2012

New iGR Study Points to Significant Potential of Hotspot 2.0 Technology

Hotspot 2.0, also known as Passpoint (more accurately, Passpoint is the brand name for the certification program operated by the Wi-Fi Alliance), is new technology that helps integrate and expand access to wireless data services. It supposedly will make it easier for users to gain access to Wi-Fi hotspots (no need for login screens, no need for passwords and so on), while also providing both cost savings and new revenue opportunities for any mobile operator that chooses to deploy it.

Hotspot 2.0 enables many new certified (that is, Passpoint-certified) devices to be automatically and transparently connected to any certified access points within range of the device if the device belongs to an end user that has a billing and customer relationship with the Wi-Fi service provider associated with the given Wi-Fi access point. The larger the wireless carrier the more effective Hotspot 2.0 will be for that carrier.

Image via Shutterstock

It is worth pointing out here that the Hotspot 2.0 technology is only intended to be but a first step in what the wireless industry anticipates will be a growing suite of capabilities that they hope will allow for the seamless integration of Wi-Fi hotspots directly into carrier mobile networks. The idea of course is that the wireless carriers will then be able to easily pass their subscribers (because they are already pre-certified, easily connected and already have an account with the carrier) from cell site to hotspot and back again as necessary. Carriers see it as a clear means to offload wireless data traffic from the cellular networks to relieve potential congestion and so on.

As Wi-Fi is incorporated into a rapidly growing collection of small cells (what the industry now refers to as heterogeneous networks - or HetNets, though these are still some years off in the future) it becomes ever more critical to automate as much of the subscriber access piece of it as possible. Hotspot 2.0 itself only solves the issue of hotspot discovery, login and authentication of user devices to carrier-owned or managed hotspots. There is much more being planned.

An article we wrote last week asking if we are spectrum rich or merely spectrum dumb talks specifically to the issue of managing spectrum, and both wireless and backhaul bandwidth. Ultimately, it becomes more and more difficult to build large scale cell towers, and small cell and femtocell environments are the only answer to creating more bandwidth. Even then, it will not be enough. Demand for wireless access continues to grow unabated and as more cellular-enabled tablets hit the street demand will only become worse. The wireless carriers need to find effective ways to alleviate wireless data traffic running across the cellular networks. Wi-Fi is a ready answer, and Hotspot 2.0 is a first good step toward delivering more automation into the process of moving users to Wi-Fi whenever they can.

Need to know more about Hotspot 2.0? iGR's new market research report, “Hotspot 2.0: Passing Go,” does a good job of providing an overview of the Hotspot 2.0 standard, who some of the key players are, and views into the likely impact Hotspot 2.0 will have on the wireless market.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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