Passpoint to eradicate Wi-Fi hotspot login

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New initiative will make it easier to move between different Wi-Fi hotspots

The Wi-Fi Alliance is launching a new technology that aims to take the hassle out of moving between Wi-Fi hotspots.

Dubbed Passpoint, the service will allow users to join a public Wi-Fi hotspot in the background, without having to enter login details or fill out a form. The Wi-Fi Alliance says it will make it as easy to move from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another as it is for mobile phones to move from one cell mast to the next.

Passpoint should also ease the transition between 3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks, potentially allowing mobile networks to ease the burden on their cellular data networks by silently shuffling users onto a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot. Indeed, T-Mobile is one of the early backers of Passpoint.

The Wi-Fi Alliance says devices will be authenticated automatically, using either the Extensible Authentication Protocols (EAP) connected to a phone's SIM card, a stored username and password, or certificate credentials.

All Passpoint connections are encrypted via the WPA2-Enterprise standard, making it usable for business and other confidential data. Passpoint won't require any new hardware - any device capable of connecting to a WPA2 network will be able to use the system with a software upgrade.

“We know Passpoint is going to delight our user base – people love Wi-Fi and want to connect easily everywhere they go,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “Passpoint also addresses the pressing service provider needs for data offload and subscriber loyalty, and Passpoint gives Wi-Fi equipment vendors a single industry-wide solution to satisfy service provider requirements.”

It's not yet clear, however, whether any British Wi-Fi network providers will back Passpoint. Device certification is expected to start in June.

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