Cellphones switch from one cell tower to another pretty quickly while you’re on the go. However, Wifi negotiations and handoffs are way more slower. However, Fast handoffs for Wifi from one AccessPoint to another are coming soon.
The basic reason behind slow Wifi handoffs is the design itself. Wifi was designed to work in local areas where you don’t need to roam more than couple of meters. Wifi networks were deigned for local wireless access within a vicinity: Whether its your home, office or a coffee house. The WiFi Alliance taking steps to encounter this problem. The new Passpoint program aims to make WiFi a “true extension of service provider networks,” letting users roam from one hotspot to another with no manual effort, just like cell phone owners already switch seamlessly from one cell tower to another.
“With Passpoint, devices automatically identify and join WiFi networks, and users are not required to complete a cumbersome manual login process, Passpoint also automatically configures industry-standard WPA2 security protections without user intervention. Passpoint certification for network equipment and end user devices is expected to begin in June, and is based on the WiFi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification.”
So the question that comes next is how do you keep track of billing when you roam into a different Wifi network? The solution is to use cell phone’s SIM card for identification and billing. This makes it possible to have internet access readily available wherever you go, without password and it also help service providers move the congestion of cellular networks to Wifi networks.
The Passpoint program is complementary to a new revision of the IEEE’s 802.11 WiFi standard (Gigabit 802.11ac), and supports faster devices and networks as well as better handoff between cellular and WiFi networks. As of now, its unclear how cell providers will charge the customers, however we’ll be able to see Passpoint-enabled WiFi networks available to consumers in the third quarter of this year. Some of the service providers in US have already been participating in field trials worldwide. T-Mobile had been part of the field trials in the US, and we are sure that they will be among first few providers to launch it.
Sprint says that they are “exploring all the options available to maintain our networks’ performance at optimal levels, but have nothing to share at this time about specific services.” Verizon similarly said it won’t discuss future plans regarding Passpoint.
Basically, any device that can connect to WiFi and supports WPA2 security will be capable of using Passpoint services. “There’s no hardware requirement. It will be a software update”. About 72 percent of users are looking for such a service. And most of them are even ready to switch to a new service provider to avail such service.
Wifi Roaming is sure a hot topic for end of 2012 and early 2013. More on this later.