SOURCE: Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi Alliance

October 08, 2014 19:00 ET

Wi-Fi Alliance® Introduces New Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ Features

Passpoint Enables Businesses to Realize Full Value of Wi-Fi® Investments and Expand User Reach

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - Oct 8, 2014) - Wi-Fi Alliance has expanded its important Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ program. Now, in addition to seamless connection and WPA2™ security for mobile devices in Wi-Fi® hotspots, Passpoint provides a streamlined method to establish new user accounts and connect Wi-Fi-only devices such as tablets and notebooks. The new features in Passpoint expand the program's strategic value to mobile and fixed operators, and open opportunities for other sectors as they invest in Wi-Fi to meet business challenges.

Passpoint's expansion comes at a time when Wi-Fi is increasingly crucial to service providers. For example, fixed broadband operators have launched ambitious Wi-Fi deployments in public settings and extended Wi-Fi coverage with a growing number of homespots. "Wi-Fi-first" business models have provided a disruptive counterpoint to traditional operator services, and retailers are deploying Wi-Fi as a way to improve customer engagement. Wi-Fi roaming agreements among service providers are emerging as an important complement to traditional cellular roaming.

"Enthusiasm for Passpoint from both mobile and fixed operators continues to mount, and the strategic value of Passpoint extends into new segments as well," said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "What makes the new features exciting is that they empower businesses to realize the powerful commercial impact that Wi-Fi can offer by giving them the ability to engage with customers on a new platform in a secure and streamlined fashion." 

Passpoint momentum is growing in the service provider and vendor segments. Hundreds of models of smartphones, tablets, and operator-grade access points have been certified for Passpoint, which was launched in 2012 and is based on Wi-Fi Alliance's Hotspot 2.0 Technical Specification. Fixed and mobile operators, including Boingo, Orange, SK Telecom, Time Warner Cable, and Telkom Indonesia have deployed Passpoint networks, and more than 20 operators are now participating in Wi-Fi roaming trials based on Passpoint.

"Passpoint delivers vital access and security technology for Wi-Fi providers of every type, while also easing the way for effective Wi-Fi roaming interconnect agreements," said Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst in the 451 Research Mobility Team. "The new features are important because they enable Passpoint's value proposition by making it simple to connect millions of Wi-Fi-only devices to secure, trusted Passpoint venues. Wi-Fi providers -- including fixed, mobile, retail and hospitality services -- should take note."

The end-user market is poised to embrace seamless Wi-Fi offerings. Research recently conducted among smartphone and tablet users in the United States and United Kingdom on behalf of Wi-Fi Alliance® found that Wi-Fi services enabled by Passpoint have the potential to foster customer loyalty and drive measurable business value for both service providers and retailers.

Among the findings are the following:

  • Seventy percent of respondents agreed that they would be less likely to leave their cable or wireless provider if the provider offered a network of widely available Passpoint hotspots
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed that they would switch mobile providers for a Passpoint-enabled Wi-Fi offering, and half of respondents agreed they would be willing to pay more to get it
  • In the U.S. and U.K., 69 percent of respondents have used a mobile device during a retail shopping experience. Survey respondents stated that having a Passpoint-enabled hotspot service would make them more likely to stay in the store longer (28 percent), return to the store more often (29 percent), and choose the store over one without Passpoint (27 percent).

The Passpoint program expansion builds on its foundational authentication and security mechanisms, adding key features that make Passpoint more versatile and scalable:

  • Online sign-up and immediate account provisioning: Passpoint now enables a streamlined process to establish a new user account at the point of access. For service providers, this reduces barriers to account creation and usage. For users, this capability takes the complexity out of getting connected and enables in-pocket connection across a service provider's network of hotspots.
  • Secure registration: The process of establishing a new account or connecting a second device takes place securely. Devices are provisioned with the appropriate credentials and configuration for network access. Users can be confident they are connecting to their chosen provider's valid network, and their credentials are exchanged securely. 
  • Operator policy: Passpoint now includes the capability for service providers to distribute their specific subscriber policies, such as which networks to join and in what order of preference. This policy support enables providers to deliver the best user experience on Wi-Fi, while still easily maintaining the business requirements of Wi-Fi roaming agreements.

The Passpoint certification program test suite includes support from Aruba Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm Atheros, and Ruckus Wireless. DigiCert and NetworkFX are authorized certificate authorities for the program.

Wi-Fi Alliance will demonstrate Passpoint, including the new features, today at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, during the Wireless Broadband Alliance Wi-Fi Global Congress. For more information on Passpoint, including a white paper and a full list of certified products, please visit http://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-certified-passpoint.

Industry response to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint:

"We welcome the launch of the next generation of Passpoint certification that will maximize the benefits of Wi-Fi for end users, manufacturers and service providers, and we are excited to see this new technology in action at the live NGH experience at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Francisco," said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of Wireless Broadband Alliance. "Our ongoing collaboration with Wi-Fi Alliance has driven significantly-increased confidence in Wi-Fi technology, and we have seen Wi-Fi roaming roll-outs based on Passpoint and Next Generation Hotspot become a commercial reality worldwide in ever increasing numbers."

"Passpoint already delivers the best user experience available in public Wi-Fi access, and the new feature enhancements provide a fundamental step forward that enables carriers to identify and provision users on the fly," said Dr. Derek Petersen, CTO for Boingo Wireless. "We've made Passpoint a standard requirement for every new network we deploy. Carriers, handset manufacturers, and network OEMs should run -- not walk -- to embrace and deploy Passpoint capabilities as soon as possible to maximize accessibility and dramatically improve the user experience."

"Public Wi-Fi access that is secure and automated is an essential step to delivering great user experience and Passpoint enables that along with an expansive, global roaming footprint," said Keerti Melkote, CTO, Aruba Networks. "The new advancements to Passpoint, including the support for online signup (OSU) and automatic device provisioning, further maximizes the benefits of public Wi-Fi access for subscribers, businesses and operators."

"BlackBerry is proud to have contributed to the development of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint program. The new feature enhancements will significantly improve a user's ability to get online at Wi-Fi hotspots," said Charles Eagan, Global Head of Software, BlackBerry. "As Wi-Fi deployments increase, the simplicity and security provided by the Passpoint program will help streamline Wi-Fi offload and enable near ubiquitous connectivity -- key features to BlackBerry users."

"Passpoint is a key certification program that will take industry-wide seamless connectivity from vision to reality," said Clint W. Brown, director of business development at Broadcom. "Service providers realize an added layer of value through new features like simplified secure online sign-up that enables Wi-Fi roaming across a network of hotspots. Broadcom is proud to partner with the Wi-Fi Alliance on this critical program and pleased to have our implementations selected for use in the Passpoint certification test bed."

"Passpoint is a critical solution for service providers who want to get the most value from investments in Wi-Fi," said Suraj Shetty, vice president and general manager, service provider mobility solutions, Cisco. "The expansion of the certification to include online signup and policy features is an important industry milestone, and Cisco is proud to be a pioneer in the development of the program."

"DigiCert congratulates Wi-Fi Alliance and its membership on today's launch, and we're excited to be an authorized certificate provider," said Dan Timpson, VP of Technology at DigiCert. "Today's announcement represents an important step toward a more secure global Wi-Fi hotspot experience, utilizing the proven authentication and encryption benefits of SSL/TLS technology to enable an easy and secure user signup process." 

"Ericsson continues to demonstrate our commitment to the seamless integration of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies, ensuring the best end user experience while optimizing network resources," said Stephen Rayment, head of technology, Wi-Fi, Ericsson. "We are pleased to be selected for the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ vendor test bed to further industry efforts to make Wi-Fi more seamless, secure, and accessible."

"The Wi-Fi Alliance's Passpoint program has created a truly seamless network of Wi-Fi hotspots, and the new enhancements extend further into usability and security for better user experience," said Kevin Tang, senior director of marketing, IoT BU Connectivity Solutions for Marvell. "This allows consumers to automatically and securely connect to local Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere in the world. We look forward to continuing our work with the Wi-Fi Alliance on innovative programs to bring ease of use and always-connected wireless experience to end users through our mobile and infrastructure Wi-Fi products."

"The expanded Passpoint certification program will lead to an improved and much more secure Wi-Fi hotspot experience, especially for users on the go," said SR Tsai, general manager of MediaTek's Wireless Connectivity & Networking Business Unit. "In 2012, MediaTek's smartphone platform was included in the initial Passpoint test bed, and we are pleased to be included as part of the test bed for the additional features."

"Passpoint provides the crucial technology that enables Wi-Fi to evolve from islands of broadband service to a broad, secure, and mobile network," said Oscar Marcia, president for NetworkFX. "NetworkFX is proud of its role in the development of Passpoint and looks forward to participating as an authorized certificate vendor for organizations deploying Passpoint."

"With Passpoint equipment, the islands of Wi-Fi connectivity that surround us can now be woven together through roaming consortiums to form a seamless and secure network experience with near ubiquitous connectivity," said Rob Mustarde, VP of business development at Ruckus Wireless. "With the newly-introduced features, consumers can easily obtain the credentials to connect across a roaming footprint."

About Wi-Fi Alliance®
www.wi-fi.org
Wi-Fi Alliance® is a global non-profit industry association -- our members are the worldwide network of companies that brings you Wi-Fi®. The members of our collaboration forum come from across the Wi-Fi ecosystem and share a vision of seamless connectivity. Since 2000, the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED seal of approval designates products with proven interoperability, industry-standard security protections, and the latest technology. Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 20,000 products, delivering the best user experience and encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services in new and established markets. Today, billions of Wi-Fi products carry a significant portion of the world's data traffic in an ever-expanding variety of applications. 

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Methodological note: The Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. smartphone and tablet users, ages 18 and older, between September 18-26, 2014, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

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