The Hotspot 2.0 standard was finalised last year with a view to improving the ease of use and security of wireless roaming. Manual Wi-Fi tasks such as authentication can be automated, easing the process of moving from network to network.
Smartphone vendors are now shipping Hotspot 2.0-certified devices that make it possible to connect a large number of Wi-Fi access points belonging to different entities, using a web of roaming agreements.
This means no more SSID-surfing or having to ask for Wi-Fi passwords, incorporating WPA-2 airlink security and client isolation.
It will greatly benefit mobile workers who need to access different networks. They need only sign in once, and then they can roam freely between access points belonging to different entities.
Hotspot 2.0 will have its greatest impact and appeal within the enterprise. And the channel can look to provide increasingly valuable access points to its customers.
It will also help to build new relationships between carriers and venue owners, particularly those carriers that aim to provide uninterrupted Wi-Fi service to subscribers.
It can provide a new revenue stream for building owners and the VARs that supply and install their Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Many enterprise WLANs are expensive, but Hotspot 2.0 offers the chance to improve ROI and add revenue through agreements with carriers.
Instead of simply supporting a free service for walk-in customers, WLANs can become a new profit centre.
So enterprises will need to boost their WLAN networks with additional capacity and industrial-strength equipment.
Steve Hratko is director of service provider marketing at Ruckus Wireless
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