Number of Global Hotspots Is Expected to Double by 2014

By Ed Silverstein March 23, 2011

WiFi Alliance providers and device manufacturers have developed requirements for a testing program related to the authentication and provision of service for public WiFi networks, the alliance said.

The WiFi Alliance “hotspot program” will allow for the “handoff of cellular traffic from data-hungry smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics to WiFi, helping service providers manage demands on constrained licensed spectrum,” the alliance said in a statement carried by Engadget.

Volume of data over cellular networks is predicted to basically double from 2011 to 2012, when it will total 4.56 million terabytes, the alliance said.

As a result, many service providers have developed expanded plans for WiFi hotspot deployment. The number of hotspots is expected to more than double by 2014 globally, from the current 750,000 hotspots.

"Ensuring end users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers is a win for subscribers, service providers and device makers alike," Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the WiFi Alliance, said in a press release from the alliance. "We envision an automated, cellular-like experience for WiFi users around the world in security-protected service provider hotspots."

Some of the benefits from the hotspot program include:

Setting up user accounts becomes streamlined.

Over-the-air transmissions are encrypted and use new technology for security.

Devices are often given access to a network based on credentials, such as SIM cards.

Devices locate and select networks based on user preferences, policies from operators, and network optimization.

"As a member of the WiFi Alliance, France Telecom-Orange has actively contributed to the development of WiFi hotspot certification, which is set to significantly improve user experience by facilitating connectivity in hotspots," Rida Zouaoui, head of access networks standardization of France Telecom-Orange, said in a press release. "By developing carrier-grade certification, this new generation of hotspots will allow Orange to provide WiFi services that are both reliable and user-friendly. In addition, SIM-based authentication will enhance security and accessibility to Orange WiFi hotspots, especially when roaming."

The introduction of the WiFi hotspot certification program is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2012.

In other WiFi Alliance News, TechZone360 reported that TÜV Rheinland, one of only two WiFi Alliance-authorized testing labs in the United States, reported in January it has been qualified by the WiFi Alliance to perform testing to the new WiFi Certified WiFi Direct specification.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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