Wi-FiThe first batch of next-generation of broadband Wi-Fi hotspots (NGH) are expected to be deployed over the next 12 months, according to the Wi-Fi Broadband Alliance (WBA). Leading wireless network operators and equipment vendors have been participating in successful NGH trials organized by the WBA in Singapore recently, with the industry association planning trials of more advanced features in 2H 2012, according to a press release.

One advantage of NGH is that they offer automatic network connectivity, like the cellular phone network, as opposed to having to sign on to current generation Wi-Fi hotspots. This also provides an advantage for mobile telecom and hotspot operators as they can offload many more users from their mobile broadband networks. Next-gen broadband hotspots also offer security on par with that of cellular networks, according to WBA, including end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM authentication.

The goal of the NGH trial runs was to test NGH requirements for network discovery, selection, and security, as well as automatic authentication in a production environment on and between different operators’ networks using equipment and devices from a variety of vendors, the WBA explains. The best means of implementing automatic authentication and the steps necessary to upgrade home networks to NGH were also tested. NGH service requirements as determined by WBA-member operators were made available to vendors who use the HotSpot 2.0 device standards from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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“The complementary relationship between Wi-Fi and mobile networks is finally becoming a reality. Next Generation Hotspots allow smartphones and tablets to automatically roam from the cellular network on to Wi-Fi hotspots thereby augmenting the coverage and capacity of both. Fixed and mobile operators alike are leading a Wi-Fi hotspot renaissance in a renewed effort to sate the seemingly unquenchable desire for ubiquitous broadband connectivity,” WBA chairman Chris Bruce stated.

“What has made this trial so unique is that the key players from both the mobile operator community and the Wi-Fi ecosystem have actively come together and supported each other for this industry-wide program. The future is a great broadband experience that operates over all sorts of different technologies.”

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