In late 2010, Verizon rolled out its 4G LTE network, which offers data speeds 10 times as fast as 3G networks. But as mobile data traffic continues to grow—experts anticipate that it will increase 26-fold in the next three years—it’s unlikely that any network will be able to keep up. Fortunately, something else is set to happen over the next three years: Wi-Fi could become as ubiquitous and easy to access as cellular is now.
Wi-Fi is up to 15 times as fast as LTE, but at this point it’s an unrealistic substitute for cell service. Connecting is not a standard process. Users need to log into access points individually, enter passwords, and go through other credentialing rigmarole. And range is limited; once logged in, a user can’t wander more than a few hundred feet from an indoor router. But such limitations will soon be gone.
Later this year, the Wi-Fi Alliance, a consortium that oversees Wi-Fi certification and testing, will release the Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint standard to automate logins. Based on the IEEE 802.11u protocol, Passpoint will allow devices to identify preferred hotspots, connect to them, enter passwords, and authenticate security credentials—all automatically. Users may be able to add Passpoint access to their cellphone plans or sign up for standalone service through another provider, such as Boingo, a company that serves 400,000 hotspots at locations like malls and restaurants. When users with Passpoint walk into a coffee shop or arrive at an airport, their phones will automatically connect with the network.
» via infoneer-pulse: Popular Science