Is that hotspot safe to use? Wi-Fi Alliance wants to help

The group is also seeking to get rid of wires in the home

Security-savvy mobile-device users are increasingly casting a skeptical eye on public Wi-Fi, and now the vendor consortium behind the wireless standard wants to make logging in via that coffee shop network a bit safer.

The Wi-Fi Alliance's Passpoint program, based on the Hotspot 2.0 specification, will make public hotspots both safer and easier to use, according to CEO Edgar Figueroa.

"Today, for the most part, when we go on a public hotspot we are sending data without protection. With Passpoint the connections are secure and the communication is encrypted," Figueroa said.

Also, users should no longer have to search for and choose a network, request the connection to the access point each time and then in many cases re-enter their password. All that can be handled by Passpoint-compatible devices, according to Figueroa.

"The beauty of Passpoint is that the whole industry has agreed to do it this way. More than 70 [devices] have been certified," he said.

Mobile operators have come to see public Wi-Fi as an important part of their networks as they face growing data usage volumes, and between 60 and 70 big operators are members of the Alliance, Figueroa said.

But he had little to say about the uptake of Passpoint among operators, and would point out only two examples: the first Passpoint-compatible hotspot from Boingo Wireless at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and 30 operators taking part in a trial conducted by the Wireless Broadband Alliance.

Work on an updated Passpoint program has also started. It includes new features for standardized user provisioning. Today everybody signs up users differently, and that makes it harder to implement roaming, according to Figueroa.

The plan is to have the new specification ready next year.

The most obvious problem for current Wi-Fi networks is performance in crowded environments, and Figueroa said the Alliance has addressed that issue with the 802.11ac certification program, which "offers a robust solution that takes you onto 5GHz. So far that band hasn't been widely used, but ac makes it more compelling," he said.

The Alliance has also added the new WiGig program, which approves products that operate in the 60 GHz frequency band and offer gigabit speeds over short distances. The technology will be used to connect PCs and portable devices to monitors, projectors and HDTVs wirelessly. Other applications include "instant backups," according to Figueroa.

"This will be our attempt at making this market go ... We have a critical mass of vendors who are investing," Figueroa said.

Behind the scenes, other areas are also being explored.

"There is a lot of stuff going on around the connected home. There are also a lot of things we are working on for smart grids and there are interest groups looking at health care," Figueroa said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags NetworkingwirelessWi-Fi AllianceWLANs / Wi-Fi

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?