With Wi-Fi capability built into devices ranging from smartphones to laptops, many consumers rely on hotspots for mobile connectivity. Unfortunately, a good Wi-Fi user experience has usually been a fixed one, where the user remains in one place so as not to lose his or her connection and/or provider. Now, the Passpoint certification program is looking to foster multi-provider Wi-Fi roaming. As a result, Wi-Fi networks will soon offer a cellular-like connectivity experience.

Based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 specification, Passpoint promises to provide a consistent, streamlined, Wi-Fi-hotspot connection process. Just as importantly, it supports the use of one set of account credentials for multiple hotspots. Service providers will benefit from Passpoint’s underlying technology, which allows them to ease data offload while enabling roaming agreements. Passpoint network equipment will provide users with the assurance of enterprise-grade Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2)
security for hotspots.

These efforts are just getting underway with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint test-bed program. That program will use comprehensive testing to ensure that wireless-local-area-networking (WLAN) products from multiple manufacturers work together. All Passpoint-certified devices implement a single solution for many operator networks. Among the initial participants in this program are Marvell (www.marvell.com) and Qualcomm Atheros (www.qca.qualcomm.com). The list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint products and more is available at www.wi-fi.org/passpoint.