It seems there are few places of business left anymore in developed markets that don’t offer Wi-Fi. As smartphones increasingly become the main way that people manage their everyday lives, and with mobile Internet speeds strengthened to a level that allows people to carry out complex tasks like online banking and e-commerce, data connectivity has become a must for mobile users at any moment or location. And they continue to look to those of us in the mobile industry to make Wi-Fi more available and easier to connect to.
This week at Mobile World Congress, Syniverse is helping advance this effort by participating in the trial and demonstration of an advanced Wi-Fi network led by the Wireless Broadband Alliance and the GSM Association (GSMA). The Next Generation Hotspot and Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint network allows attendees using Passpoint-enabled iOS and Android from participating mobile operators to automatically connect to the public Wi-Fi network at the Fira Gran Via venue in Barcelona using operator-verified credentials and a secure Wi-Fi connection.
Syniverse, as a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, is helping automatically authenticate mobile devices for this network and building on a long history with the Alliance. This includes our contributions to programs such as the Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange specifications and the Wireless Broadband Alliance-GSMA Wi-Fi Roaming Taskforce, and a joint effort with Samsung Electronics in Indonesia that was recently profiled in a new case study by the Alliance.
The Next Generation Hotspot and Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint network marks an important step toward helping alleviate the inconsistent experience that many mobile users face when they attempt to use public Wi-Fi. Obstacles to this experience can include everything from different authentication methods, to inconsistent security standards, to overloaded capacity. These can add up to frustrated, data-hungry consumers as well as disappointed Wi-Fi operators that don’t realize the volume of traffic they expect. The improvement in the usability and the quality of the Next Generation Hotspot and Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint network Wi-Fi will lead to much happier consumers and higher network usage.
Personally, I’m excited about this for a couple of reasons. As a global traveler, I’ve frequently experienced the frustrations of attempting to use Wi-Fi to remain connected. I believe there is a huge opportunity to develop Wi-Fi similar to the way that mobile networks were developed. In the early days of mobile, there were many providers with disparate networks. As consumer demand grew for access, the industry worked to connect networks, and Syniverse played a central role in this. I foresee that one day Wi-Fi will become a seamless, complimentary data service for a mobile device where my device will select the best connectivity option for me based upon signal availability, network performance and price. When that happens, I’ll be proud to say I was a part of that evolution.
Do you think global Wi-Fi access will be made easier in the next few years? What kind of places do you think need more seamless Wi-Fi access? I would love to get your comments.