MWC 2014 Preview: AT&T, Cisco and Accuris deliver automatic carrier-grade Wi-Fi

Pioneering deployment to be made available to visitors at Mobile World Congress signals Hotspot 2.0 convergence of Wi-Fi and cellular wireless technologies

MWC 2014 Preview: AT&T, Cisco and Accuris deliver automatic carrier-grade Wi-Fi

Hotspot 2.0 will be deployed on a grand scale for the first time, serving tens of thousands of conference attendees at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Hotspot 2.0 enables seamless, secure authentication and roaming on Wi-Fi, as well as cellular networks.

AT&T, Cisco and Accuris Networks are collaborating with several global mobile operators, including Bell Mobility, China Mobile, Korea Telecom, MEO, Mobily, NTT DOCOMO, PCCW-HKT, SK Telecom, and True to provide a Next-Generation Wi-Fi Hotspot network at the conference.

Customers of the participating mobile operators with the latest compatible phones will securely and automatically authenticate onto the Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi network when they walk through the conference doors, just as easily as they roamed onto the mobile network when they landed in Barcelona.

The Hotspot 2.0 standard is the product of many years of work in the industry, and has required open collaboration between mobile operators, network equipment vendors and handset manufacturers.

In essence, it provides the same seamless, highly secure authentication on Wi-Fi that users are familiar with for cellular roaming. Hotspot 2.0 meets this standard and has been certified through the Wi-Fi Alliance certification process and has been designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint.

Three key elements came together to make this a groundbreaking public Next-Generation Hotspot 2.0 network. They are:

  • AT&T Mobility worked with its roaming partners worldwide, including the participating mobile operators, to add Wi-Fi roaming to their roaming agreements.
  • Cisco provided the carrier-grade Wi-Fi network, made up entirely of the latest Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint access points and controllers, based on the Hotspot 2.0 specification. The Cisco solution features self-configuring, self-optimising and self-healing intelligence across the network, offering self-optimising network (SON) performance over Wi-Fi.
  • Accuris Networks provided the cellular access to Wi-Fi connection that enables users at Mobile World Congress to securely and automatically connect onto the Wi-Fi network. Accuris Networks ensures there are no cumbersome passwords or pop-ups, while authentication and billing are managed, behind the scenes, through SIM cards, just like cellular.

"As the Wi-Fi and cellular worlds merge, developing a common authentication mechanism with standard roaming agreements is a natural next step," said JR Wilson, VP, partnerships and alliances, AT&T Mobility and chairman of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

"AT&T Mobility, the WBA, and other WBA partners have been involved in the Hotspot 2.0 and Next Generation Hotspot efforts since their inception. Demonstrating Hotspot 2.0 at Mobile World Congress is a major industry milestone towards global adoption," said Wilson.

"Cisco started this initiative several years ago and it is great to see the vision of bringing the Wi-Fi user experience on par with cellular being realised," said Bob Friday, vice president and chief technology officer, mobility, Cisco.

"Several mobile device manufacturers now support Hotspot 2.0 and we are seeing the adoption of Hotspot 2.0 by mobile network operators with roaming agreements being put in place. And the Mobile World Congress network is a better venue to give attendees a taste of the near future, where Wi-Fi and cellular networks are seamless and act as one mobile Internet network. This is another significant milestone of the mobility innovation cycle," said Friday.

"Accuris Network's AccuROAM solution makes any Wi-Fi network function just like an extension of a GSM or cellular network for offload, roaming, billing and authentication," said Larry Quinn, CEO, Accuris Networks.

"Last year at Mobile World Congress, our AccuROAM solution won the award for Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough, so this year it's great to bring the benefits of this technology to the attendees of Mobile World Congress. Now, AT&T, Cisco and Accuris Networks team to ensure that Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi can be fully integrated with cellular networks for a seamless user experience at the Fira Gran Via."

Hotspot 2.0 is just the beginning for the new mobile network. Once users can securely roam onto the Wi-Fi network as easily as they do on the cellular network, operators can start offering a host of new services that take advantage of the indoor location information and analytics uniquely provided by indoor small cells.

 

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