802.11u and Hotspot 2.0 - Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint

802.11u - Hotspot 2.0 - The Wi-Fi Alliance predicts that about 200 million households use Wi-Fi networks, and there are about 750,000 Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. Wi-Fi is used by over 700, million people, and there are about 800 million new Wi-Fi devices every year.  With the massive increase in mobile devices such as iPhones, tablets and Android devices the amount of mobile data that we consume has increased far more than the mobile operators could ever of predicted.

The following is a prediction of growth in mobile data from Cisco:

  • In 2010, global mobile data traffic nearly tripled (it grew to be 2.6 times larger than the previous year) for the third year in a row, despite a slow economic recovery, increased traffic offload, and the advent of tiered pricing.
  • Global mobile data traffic will increase 26 times from 2010 to 2015, a 92 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
  • The average mobile connection speed will increase by a factor of 10 from 2010 (215 kbps) to 2015 (2.2 Mbps), a 60 percent CAGR.
  • The average mobile connection speed will increase 10 times from 2010 (215 kbps) to 2015 (2.2 Mbps), a 60 percent CAGR.
  • By 2015, global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 75 exabytes per year. 75 exabytes is equal to 75 times more than all IP traffic generated in 2000, or 19 billion DVDs, or 536 quadrillion SMS text messages

So what are the issues today with using WiFi hotspots??

Initial connection issues

Just connecting to a WiFi Hotspot can be difficult, searching for the network and connecting. Waiting for your connection to show Connected before you can start the login process.

Logging into WiFi Hotspots

Having to open a web browser and enter a username and password for some people is either to difficult or too much hassle. This is estimated to put of most people from using WiFi hotspots on their mobile devices.


Using a WiFi Hotspot on a mobile device is less secure than when you would use a laptop and a VPN client. As most WiFi Hotspot networks have no encryption your mobile data is transmitted unencrypted and can be captured by anyone close by.


Roaming between different providers of WiFi Hotspots such as Boingo and BTOpenzone is not seamless and you tend to need accounts with all hotspot suppliers.

Because of these usability issues, some Wi-Fi Alliance members banded together to develop Wireless Internet Service Provider roaming (WISPr) 1.0. The specification was completed in 2003 (later the specification was officially withdrawn and the Wi-Fi Alliance chose not to develop a WISPr certification). WISPr 1.0 was one of the first attempts to automate hotspot login and authentication. WISPr 1.0 provided automated login by embedding XML data structures within the webpages delivered to mobile devices during WebAuth. However, WISPr 1.0 met with limited success as interoperability problems ensued.

The Hotspot 2.0 Task Group

In 2010, industry leaders formed the Hotspot 2.0 Task Group in the Wi-Fi Alliance. The goal was to rally the industry around a common set of standards that would vastly improve an end user (subscriber) hotspot experience and fully support service provider business objectives. For the end user, fulfilling this means making network access at a Wi-Fi hotspot both as easy and as secure as cellular network access. This is accomplished by providing consistent, secure, automated connectivity worldwide.

For the service provider, fulfilling this means increasing revenue via improved subscriber satisfaction, optimizing operations by maximizing the use of Wi-Fi for data services, enhancing value with subscription-based provisioning, and further enabling of services through roaming agreements.

The key elements of the Hotspot 2.0 Task Group for the Phase 1 Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint certification program, anticipated to launch in Q2CY2012 from the Wi-Fi Alliance, are as follows:

Network discovery and selection:

Mobile devices will discover and automatically select and connect to Wi-Fi networks based upon user preferences and network optimization.

Streamlined network access:

Mobile devices will be automatically granted access to the network based upon credentials such as SIM cards, which are widely used in cellular devices today. No user intervention will be required.

Over-the-air transmissions will be encrypted using the latest-generation security technology (Wi-Fi Certified WPA2-Enterprise). The key elements of the Wi-Fi Certified Phase 2 Passpoint certification program, anticipated to launch in late Q1CY2013, are as follows:

Immediate account provisioning:

The process of establishing a new user account at the point of access will be simplified, eliminating many user steps and driving a common provisioning methodology across vendors.

Provisioning of operator policy for network selection: A mobile device's connection manager uses this policy to select the best Wi-Fi network to join when multiple networks are available.


Hospot 2.0 hopes to deliver the promises WISPr 1.0 failed to deliver and will offer mobile users and seamless offload onto WiFi. This will hopefully deliver a true High Speed internet connection to users and keep up with their ever increasing demand for data usage.