For as long as WiFi
hotspots have been around, you’d think they would have run their course by now. Instead, they’re shaping up to be the next big thing in mobile wireless.
Wireless carriers have been using WiFi deployments to offload data usage from their 3G
networks when customers are in range, and there are plenty of developments emerging to make that process work better with stronger security and less interference to the user experience.
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA
) announced that its latest effort to that end, Next Generation Hotspots (NGH
), has enjoyed successful trials with carriers including AT&T, BT, China Mobile, DOCOMO InterTouch, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, PCCW Mobile, Portugal Telecom, Smart Communications, Swisscom, TeliaSonera, and True Corp. using LG and Intel devices.
NGHs are designed to allow mobile devices to automatically detect and connect to them (i.e., no usernames or passwords) and feature security measures typical of mobile networks, such as end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM authentication.
“Fixed and mobile operators alike are leading a Wi-Fi hotspot renaissance in a renewed effort to sate the seemingly unquenchable desire for ubiquitous broadband connectivity,” said Chris Bruce, Chair of the WBA in a press release. “What has made this trial so unique is that the key players from both the mobile operator community and the Wi-Fi ecosystem have actively come together and supported each other for this industry-wide program.”
The organization says that more trials are coming in the second half of this year, with actual deployments expected “over the next 12 months”.