13 Comments

Summary:

One of the announced features in iOS 7 that Apple didn’t get to discuss is one you’ll like to use, particularly if you hop between Wi-Fi networks. It’s called Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 and it makes it seamless to roam on Wi-Fi.

iOS7

Apple didn’t get a chance to show every new iOS 7 feature on Monday at its WWDC event, but in typical fashion it did show one presentation slide with additional features. One of those, Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0, was spotted by the eagle-eyed SlashGear team, making Apple’s iOS 7 device lineup among the first to take advantage of the new technology. With it, connecting to and roaming between Wi-Fi networks will become much easier.

iPhone 5 iOS 7 WWDC Apple screenshot phone iOSIf you’re not familiar with the Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 initiative, that’s understandable. It’s a Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) effort that we’ve been watching for the better part of two years. Last year, the WFA began certifying devices for the program and we’ve only recently begun to see the first phones that can use the technology, which is also known as Passpoint. Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 also supports this effort, which makes roaming simple and seamless.

I noted this simplicity last year: No more entering IDs, passwords or searching for network names/SSIDs. When in range of a Hotspot 2.0/Passpoint network, your handset will seamlessly connect to the network. Here’s how the WFA describes it:

“Wi-Fi hotspot access for in-network APs no longer requires an active selection or input from the subscriber. Passpoint uses a consistent interface and automated association process.

Devices can be automatically granted access to the network based on multiple credential types. Passpoint supports Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)–based authentication, widely used in cellular networks today, as well as username/password combinations and certificate credentials. No end-user intervention is required in order to establish a connection to a trusted network.”

Making the connection even better than a standard Wi-Fi link is encryption. That’s a feature that, again, will require no special user configuration and makes the Wi-Fi connection more like a cellular one when it comes to security. And if there are multiple Passpoint networks in close proximity, you can wander around between them and switch seamlessly.

Wifi, Wifi in the City

Users won’t see the feature until iOS 7 is released this fall and even after that, they’ll have to find Passpoint locations to take advantage of it. But as vendors and providers add Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 support to their networks, Apple devices running the latest software will be ready to roam.

  1. Will this wifi feature be useable on existing hardware–iPhones and iPads?

    Share
    1. Yes, it will be available on most all devices. Although HotSpot 2.0 can run on nearly all devices (that have hardware support for WPA2 encryption, which includes all iPhones and iPads), Apple has decided to release it for recent devices: iPhones 4 and newer, and iPads 2 and newer.

      For further details about the status and timeline for standards-based Carrier Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Roaming, please see excerpts and updates at http://www.MobilityConsulting.com from our upcoming Report on “Overcoming the Obstacles to Carrier Wi-Fi.”

      Robert
      http://www.MobilityConsulting.com

      Share
  2. This Hotspot 2.0 program is only designed to make it easier for cellular companies and other public guest type service networks (coffee shops, bookstores, airports, and others) to gleam information via analytics from people using their network and it does nothing to increase performance and corporate business customers would never hand over their sign on device management over to cellular companies via SIM card authentication.

    Nice attempt to just sell more ads on the back of iOS users Apple.

    On a second note Apple’s move to 802.11ac it just designed to sell AirPort AP’s and devices and is not standards based as the 802.11ac standard has not even been written yet and is expected to come out in the early part of 2014 from the standards body if it stays on track.

    Share
    1. Of course products are just designed to be sold, what did you expect? Regarding 802.11ac: it’s unlikely that the final standard will differ significantly from what Apple implements today. Any last minute changes can be addressed with firmware updates.

      Other manufacturers will make compatible products, so it becomes a de-facto standard before it becomes an official standard, in the same way that web browsers have been supporting HTML5 features for over a year although there was no final standard.

      Share
      1. Well said, and other manufacturers already offer 802.11ac routers. I use an Asus model at my home office, even though the standard isn’t yet complete. All of the latest Android flagships support 802.11ac as well. This isn’t a ploy by Apple. Nor is the Hotspot 2.0 bit: it’s an industry initiative.

        Share
        1. Well all I can remember is how messed up things were back in the day for Draft-N and Pre-N equipment for 802.11n as it didn’t work between various vendors for equipment.

          No major AP vendor – Cisco, Aruba, Ruckus, Meraki or others will release a 802.11ac product till the standard comes out at there is too much liability.

          After sitting through BICSI and Fluke Networks and other presentations on 801.11ac you can expect some very short range requirements for the signal at the high throughput levels. But maybe it is a good idea to try to carve out some of your local 5Ghz space and squat on it as soon as you can before it gets all taken and congested as 802.11ac takes way bigger chunks of bandwidth over the 5Ghz space than 802.11n does.

          Share
          1. The early 802.11n days were only messed up for those who chose to purchase Draft-n and Pre-n hardware. If you waited until the final standard came out you were fine.

            If you are a consumer hardware maker, however, waiting for the final standard is suicide. Early adopters are big spenders and they want everything yesterday. If you always wait for a standard to be ratified before you ship product you’ve permanently kissed the early adopters and their money goodbye.

            My local PC store lists 6 different brands of 802.11ac router so it could be said that Apple is rather late to the party.

            I know the technology is different, but I tried 802.11n 5GHz at home and the range sucked so badly I went back to 2.4GHz. Walls, floors and furniture really don’t like high frequency signals.

            Share
          2. Share
          3. “…No major AP vendor – Cisco, Aruba, Ruckus, Meraki or others will release a 802.11ac product till the standard comes out at there is too much liability…”

            Oops – Don’t tell Cisco …

            SAN JOSE – April 30, 2013 – Cisco today announced new products based on the next-generation 802.11ac wireless networking standard that offer data transfer speeds of up to one gigabit per second – fast enough to download significant amounts of Web content and run streaming video simultaneously. The new products, which are already being adopted around the world by hospitals, universities, law firms and other organizations, will enable businesses to more easily support the growing number of devices connected to their wireless networks and the high performance of high-bandwidth applications, such as HD streaming video, Web conferencing, and data backup and transfers.

            http://newsroom.cisco.com/release/1177022

            Share
            1. Good news! 802.11ac was just ratified, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is now certifying products. So you can buy a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED product with confidence that it will work with other, similarly certified products. It remains to be seen how compatible the pre-standard devices will be. Always iffy to buy a pre-standard product.

              Robert
              http://www.MobilityConsulting.com

              Share
  3. Kevin, you make Hotspot 2.0 sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. It’s important to remember some key additional points. First and foremost this requires upgraded equipment and it’ll take a while before we see a reasonable concentration in the market. It’s quite a vendor-centric strategy in this regard. Secondly, this is focused almost exclusively on the carrier-WiFi market, to help mobile devices augment the capacity-reach of the network via seamless use of the carriers’ own WiFi networks (a.k.a. intelligent network selection or more bluntly “wifi offload”). It’ll seamlessly connect you to these (small) WiFi networks only if you’re a cellular subscriber. In this sense it’s no big news since smartphones have been automatically connecting to carrier WiFi (e.g. attwifi at Starbucks) for years. It should make it easier for roaming access but it’s not clear what sort of economics are in place for that. Thirdly, seamless connectivity is only one part of the challenge/opportunity around “WiFi offload” and does nothing to ensure the subscriber has a good experience. This is dumb client technology and the problem of congestion, weak signals, unplugged backhauls etc has been left as a problem for the future.

    Dave

    Share
    1. > Kevin, you make Hotspot 2.0 sounds like the best thing since sliced bread.

      I’m strongly with Kevin on this, as it represents a huge advance in the use of Wi-Fi for Subscribers and Operators, and has is the result of years of effort by experts in the Wi-Fi and cellular community (in which I have participated).

      > First and foremost this requires upgraded equipment
      > and it’ll take a while before we see a reasonable concentration in the market.

      Yes, it requires devices and equipment, and both are emerging and are being certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Operators are planning their deployments now with this standards-based product. It’s similar to the release of 802.11ac: everyone is looking forward to its benefits, and some have wanted it so badly that they have deployed pre-standard products!

      > It’s quite a vendor-centric strategy in this regard.

      It is an industry-wide strategy, and supported by over 100 leading Operators, equipment vendors, device manufacturers, and roaming service providers.

      > This is focused almost exclusively on the carrier-WiFi market,
      > to help mobile devices augment the capacity-reach of the network
      > via seamless use of the carriers’ own WiFi networks
      > (a.k.a. intelligent network selection or more bluntly “wifi offload”).
      > In this sense it’s no big news since smartphones have been
      > automatically connecting to carrier WiFi (e.g. attwifi at Starbucks) for years.

      The benefits are far broader: to allow any device to seamlessly roam onto any Wi-Fi network as easily as your cellular device roams today. It is not limited to merely carrier-specific data offload (onto a carrier’s own Wi-Fi network), but HotSpot 2.0 enables your device to broadly roam onto other compliant Wi-Fi networks.

      > It’ll seamlessly connect you to these (small) WiFi networks
      > only if you’re a cellular subscriber.

      The HotSpot 2.0 standard is based on SIM-based authentication (to enable the largest base of smartphone devices to securely authenticate using their existing credentials) for cellular Subscribers, but it will also expand to include other authentication methods for non-cellular subscribers (e.g., Wi-Fi tablet users without a cellular subscription).

      > Thirdly, seamless connectivity is only one part of the challenge/opportunity
      > around “WiFi offload” and does nothing to ensure the subscriber
      > has a good experience.

      True, but by allowing Wi-Fi to become a secure extension of cellular, it set Wi-Fi along the path to become Carrier-grade, as that is what Mobile Operators will pay a premium to obtain. Already Wi-Fi networks are improving and differentiating themselves to guarantee an excellent Customer Experience, based on reliability, capacity, throughput, and low delay.

      For further details about the status and timeline for standards-based Carrier Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Roaming, please see excerpts and updates at http://www.MobilityConsulting.com from our upcoming Report on “Overcoming the Obstacles to Carrier Wi-Fi.”

      Robert
      http://www.MobilityConsulting.com

      Share
  4. HotSpot 2.0 update for Smartphones & Tablets

    HotSpot 2.0 will bring huge advances in seamless and secure use of Wi-Fi from mobile devices, and device support for HotSpot 2.0 is fundamental. Fortunately, HotSpot 2.0 can be added to *existing* smartphones and tablets via software update. Apple, of particular importance, has just announced support for HotSpot 2.0 in their fall OS update, iOS 7, for nearly all iPhones (iPhone 4 and newer) and iPads (iPad 2 and newer).

    Previously, Samsung has added HotSpot 2.0 support for the Galaxy S4, as HotSpot 2.0 is not yet supported by the core Android OS – the first leading smartphone to market that supports the new standards.

    For further details about the status and timeline for standards-based Carrier Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Roaming, please see excerpts and updates at http://www.MobilityConsulting.com from our upcoming Report on “Overcoming the Obstacles to Carrier Wi-Fi.”

    Robert
    http://www.MobilityConsulting.com

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post