Seamless Wireless Gets a Boost Next Month

Carl Weinschenk
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Nine Steps to Securing Your Wireless Network

Steps you can take to protect your wireless network.

Some big changes come in a bit under the radar. But, once they are here, it quickly becomes apparent precisely how significant they are. That may be the case with the Wi-Fi Alliance's Passport.

GigaOm looks at one of the potentially subtle game-changers. In June, the site reports, the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin Passport certification. The idea is to ease the association between mobile devices and Wi-Fi hotspots.

This is a good thing. The goal always is to make things easier for the end user. Allowing seamless association with successive hotspots is a great step in and of itself. It also suggests that roaming between 3G and 4G and Wi-Fi networks will be more automated. In addition, this all will be facilitated via a firmware upgrade, not a hardware changeout. This, according to Wi-Fi Alliance, will speed the process:

That means unlike the usual wireless network cycles, we won't have to wait for next-generation equipment and new gadgets to gradually make their way into the market.

This is not a small step. PC World does a good job of putting into real terms precisely what this will mean to the public:

The new Wi-Fi feature promises to put an end to the annoying process of logging in to public hotspots through browser-based splash screens that are often an exercise in frustration. Passpoint allows devices to automatically identify and join Wi-Fi networks using the WPA2 security protocol without user intervention. The new login process can authenticate users based on a device's SIM card, a username and password, or installed security certificate. Seamless online authentication means that other Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as digital cameras, could also join a Passpoint hotspot for photo and video uploads on the go.

Last month, MicroWaves & RF reported that the GSM Association and the Wireless Broadband Alliance are working on specs that would enable roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular. The story says that the details are being fleshed out by the groups and will conform to Passport and "the GSMA's roaming principles."

The world is increasingly borderless in many ways. End users don't want to be inconvenienced, whether they are moving from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another, or between the cellular network and Wi-Fi. Look for big advances in this area - starting with Passport in June.

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