An initiative to transform the user experience in hotspots is underway in the Wi-Fi Alliance. Service providers and device manufacturers in the organization have formalized a set of industry market requirements that will lay the foundation for a new Wi-Fi certified testing program that addresses authentication and provisioning of service for public Wi-Fi networks.
"Ensuring end users can easily access hotspot networks from various providers is a win for subscribers, service providers and device makers alike," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a statement. "We envision an automated, cellular-like experience for Wi-Fi users around the world in security-protected service provider hotspots."
The Wi-Fi Alliance hotspot program will also facilitate the seamless handoff of cellular traffic from data-hungry smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics to Wi-Fi, helping service providers manage demands on constrained licensed spectrum.
Data volume over cellular networks is forecast to nearly double from 2011 to 2012, reaching 4.56 million terabytes. In an effort to address this trend, many service providers have recently announced expanded Wi-Fi hotspot deployment plans. As a result, the number of hotspots worldwide is expected to more than double by 2014, from the current estimate of 750,000.
The planned launch of the Wi-Fi certified hotspot certification program is targeted for the first half of 2012.