Getting on the Wi-Fi isn't always as easy as you'd like. Anyone who has come into an office building and spent precious minutes tapping away on an iPad to get Wi-Fi access can relate.
But that experience is changing: Next-Generation Hotspot (NGH) is an initiative from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) that enables public Wi-Fi networks for seamless, secure connections using smartphones with Passpoint certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry-recognized test for vendor interoperability.
The WBA's NGH live demo at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February 2018 was very successful. Attendees had seamless Wi-Fi roaming across more than 2,200 access points at the convention center as well as across key parts of the city, train stations and airport. We've seen the number of people using seamless Wi-Fi roaming at MWC increase 10x in three years.
At Aruba, we were inspired by that success to use our Atmosphere (ATM) conference as our own proving ground. We're doing a live showcase of NGH using Passpoint to provide seamless Wi-Fi roaming. We know our ATM crowd has high standards for Wi-Fi, and we're eager to get feedback.
Bringing the Cellular Roaming Experience to Wi-Fi
When you use your mobile phone, you don't have to do anything to connect to the different carrier networks as you travel – it all happens securely, automatically and in the background. NGH and Passpoint bring that same experience to Wi-Fi roaming, so the connection all happens securely, automatically and in the background, just like with cellular. You don't have to search out the network name, request a connection to the access point, and type in a username and password. It simply works.
Here at ATM, people's phones and tablets that are active on AT&T or T-Mobile or devices with active Boingo, iPass, Charter or Shaw Communications profiles are preconfigured to immediately connect to the ATM event network. People who have laptops, phones and tablets without an active carrier subscription can get an Aruba Passpoint Secure profile at www.arubapasspoint.com.
Passpoint takes Wi-Fi security to the next level. There are no more shared usernames and passwords that create a security risk. Each person has his or her own credentials, and the authentication process is encrypted. Multiple types of authentication methods, including using EAP-SIM for mobile phones, EAP-TTLS or EAP-TLS for cable providers, are available for a broad variety of devices and use cases.
Exploring Passpoint in the Enterprise
As commercial adoption of NGH accelerates, we've seen a few businesses give their employees Passpoint credentials, so they can be transparently connected at Wi-Fi hotspots wherever they go just as easily as if they were at their desks.
At ATM, we're exploring how easily devices with Passpoint are onboarded as well as the scalability of the solution. We're using Aruba ClearPass for the Passpoint credentials for the first time, too. We're especially interested in uncovering those difficult corner cases with device and infrastructure interoperability, and the only way to do that is to ramp it up in the real world.
We're pioneering here and are very interested sharing our experience here in Las Vegas, because that first-hand experience will create a better Wi-Fi experience for everyone.