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What is Hotspot 2.0, 802.11u, WISPr 1.2 or Passpoint?
Hotspot 2.0, 802.11u, WISPr 1.2 and Passpoint are all terms which describe public access using wireless LAN. There are some slight differences between the standards, but they all serve to express the same thing: data roaming from GSM to WLAN for SIM-based clients.
These standards (in particular WISPr) are not new and this roaming behaviour has for some time been anticipated by providers. This became increasingly relevant to GSM/3G providers as users consumed too much traffic to be handled by their own base-stations. Therefore, the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) had to provide new ways to “off-load” the date we are transmitting.
The fact that this technology is able to capture the data and to put it directly into the Internet has revitalised the interest in these technologies and given rise to Hotspot 2.0. Technologically (i.e. the intelligence behind it), it was already covered by the older (ISP) WISPr 1.2 standard and expressed for the WLAN vendors in the ratified IEEE 802.11u standard.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, the globally-acknowledged Wi-Fi standards body, recognizes this as a revitalizing approach to public access. As a part of their marketing concept, they called their certification program “Passpoint” into life.
Why is Hotspot 2.0 so appealing?
A mobile date user can access a public access network (also called public zone, public spot, guest access, hotspot, etc.) using the access credentials of their mobile phone and, without any login, start sending data. From a user perspective they get more bandwidth and there is no login needed.
In addition to user benefits, the operator (ISP) and the venue owner will see significant advantages. The ISP will enjoy increased network bandwidth and the venue owner can generate revenues by offering this service from the ISPs.
So far, this is a clear win-win-win for all involved parties, but still the hardware vendors have to comply! All standards are available and the Wi-Fi Alliance has already certified the first hardware. Also most of the existing guest access equipment can easily be upgraded by software, so hardware upgrades shouldn’t be necessary. This altogether means that the first Hotspot 2.0 access points are really available today.
Even though new phones and the iOS upgrade recently brought Hotspot-2.0 compatibility to mobile devices, in Europe, no ISP supports this standard as yet. Similarly, non-SIM-based devices need to get access as well. All this means that Hotspot-2.0 areas are often under-utilized due to missing intelligence in the mobile equipment.
Our advice to hot-spot purchasers is to ensure your chosen solution incorporates Hotspot 2.0 technology to cater for the significant public demand these standards will generate.
WLAN Consulting is an initiative of LANCOM Systems. LANCOM Systems is a leading German manufacturer of wireless LAN technology based on industry standards.