This week, I’m delighted to be helping Syniverse take part in an ongoing initiative to help the mobile industry make Wi-Fi more available and easier to connect to. Here in London at the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Wi-Fi Global Congress conference, Syniverse is participating in the trial and demonstration of an advanced Wi-Fi network called Next Generation Hotspot.
The network, led by the Wireless Broadband Alliance that Syniverse is a member of, is designed to provide hotspots that are easier for users to find and access, through connections that can be made automatically with no need for users to manually enter user names or passwords. The hotspots are also designed to be more secure, with features including end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM/TTLS authentication. These new capabilities are being demonstrated in an event called the Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) Live Experience, which allows Wi-Fi Global Congress attendees with mobile devices from over 25 participating operators to automatically connect to the public Wi-Fi network at the Tower Hotel in London using operator-verified credentials and a secure Wi-Fi connection.
For our part in the NGH Live Experience, Syniverse is helping automatically authenticate mobile devices for this network by serving as an interconnection point between the Wi-Fi venues and mobile operators. We’re doing this by taking the authentication request of a mobile subscriber from the Wi-Fi venue and passing it to the proper authentication server of the mobile operator of the subscriber. Our work builds on a long history with the Wireless Broadband Alliance that includes help with the demonstration of a similar Next Generation Hotspot network at this year’s Mobile World Congress as well as contributions to programs such as the Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange specifications and the Wireless Broadband Alliance-GSMA Wi-Fi Roaming Taskforce.
The NGH Live Experience and Next Generation Hotspot network mark important progress 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 network will lead to happier consumers and higher network usage.
Personally, I think 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 separate networks, but as consumer demand grew for access, the industry worked together to connect their networks. I foresee that one day Wi-Fi will become a seamless, complementary data service for a mobile device where my device will be able to select the best connectivity option for me based upon signal availability, network performance and price. When that happens, our Syniverse team will be proud to say that we were a part of this evolution.
How often do you use Wi-Fi in public places? What kinds of public places do you think need easier and more secure Wi-Fi access? Please share your thoughts in a comment.
Tags: Wi-Fi Global Congress