The Wi-Fi Alliance is back at it again, delivering a new milestone in tech's "evolution as an operator-grade network." What's it all mean? Well, the entity has started to test hardware on a new Passpoint roaming program. It's testing both mobile devices and infrastructure equipment for the upcoming Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint program; Passpoint mobile devices can automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, which would greatly enhance cellular to Wi-Fi hotspot switching.
The specification behind Passpoint was defined by service provider and equipment maker members of the Wi-Fi Alliance to address critical business needs for mobile data, streamlined access and subscriber loyalty. As mobile users continue to increase their use of data-intensive applications, Passpoint eases service provider data traffic offload to Wi-Fi networks. Naturally, less strain on cellular data networks and more strain on Wi-Fi networks is generally seen as a good thing.
In addition to making it easy for end users to connect, hotspots equipped with Passpoint-certified equipment automatically enable enterprise-grade WPA2 security; this program is based on technology defined in the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification. There's no real guidance on when this should hit shipping devices, but we're pretty sure we'll be hearing more about it -- perhaps even from U.S. carriers -- in the near future.