One of the biggest drawbacks of Wi-Fi is that in a multi-hotspot environment it's difficult to roam between the various access points, as often the login isn't carried over between the access points. The Wi-Fi Alliance is busy working on a solution for this problem and when it launches in July, it should be known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Wi-Fi is that in a multi-hotspot environment it's difficult to roam between the various access points, as often the login isn't carried over between the access points. The Wi-Fi Alliance is busy working on a solution for this problem and when it launches in July, it should be known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint.

According to Computerworld, Passpoint will make it easier for users to access hotspots thanks to the ability to retain the user's login credentials when roaming between several access points in the same network. Unlike today there will be no need to access a webpage to log on, instead the SIM card could be used or a certificate based method could be applied which would vastly improve the user experience when it comes to accessing hotspots. This would potentially also make it easier for browser-less devices to access Wi-Fi networks, for example digital cameras with built in Wi-Fi.

Passpoint will be rolled out in an initial version that offers fairly basic features that will form the 802.11u standard, although the good news here is that any access point that is part of the Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint standard will be required to use WPA-2 Enterprise level security.Come next year, additional features will be added such a simplified user account creation process and operator specific policies.

One of the key features of Passpoint is for cellular network operators to be able to offload data onto Wi-Fi networks and as such it's meant to be possible to roam between the cellular network and Wi-Fi hotspots, although the details are still thin as to how this will work in real world usage scenarios. The advantage of a universal standard is that various manufacturers' hardware will be interoperable which should lead to a smoother experience for both the service providers and the consumers who use the service, unlike the way things often are today.

It's interesting stuff indeed, but the question is how much extra consumers will be charged for the pleasure of offloading their data onto Wi-Fi networks compared to today's high network data charges in some countries. Deploying Wi-Fi hotspots isn't free, but then again it's a lot more affordable than cell towers, so maybe the network operators will take pity on their customers and offer the Wi-Fi services at no extra charge.

Source: Computerworld