How new ‘Wi-Fi Passpoint’ can Enable Seamless Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi Roaming


The 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.

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.

What the Industry Says about 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.”

“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 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.”

“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.”