Global Reach Technology, the Wi-Fi software innovation company, announced this week (10 September 2014) that it has linked the Wi-Fi services of the River Thames, London, UK (pictured) and the cities of San Francisco, and San Jose, in California, USA.
This marks the first trans-Atlantic large-scale municipal Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi service that allows millions of visitors and residents to automatically and securely connect to and seamlessly roam using free Wi-Fi services.
Utilising Passpoint Hotspot 2.0, a new technology specification developed by members of the WiFi Alliance (WFA), this pilot installation has been the latest step in building a secure and seamless roaming community without requiring users to manually select a network or sign-on across the globe.
Now users across the Atlantic in San Francisco, San José and London can enjoy seamless and secure Wi-Fi data connectivity that mirrors today’s cellular experience, with the added benefit of working on Wi-Fi-only devices such as tablets and laptops.
"With the adoption of Hotspot 2.0, we are literally transforming the user Wi-Fi experience,” said Vijay Sammeta, chief information officer for the City of San José. “Hotspot 2.0 makes our infrastructure smarter by eliminating tedious and cumbersome device configuration. Now people can securely connect to and roam using our networks in a transparent fashion. Things don’t get much easier."
“It’s great to be helping to create the world’s largest municipal deployment of Hotspot 2.0 technology that is open to the public and available to anyone with a supported device,” said Nigel Wesley, CEO of Global Reach Technology. “We have embarked on a programme implementing Hotspot 2.0 networks and we expect more and more network providers to join, which will allow us to realize our collective vision for global Wi-Fi roaming.”
"People want their devices to automatically connect to high performing, trusted WiFi networks whenever they are in range, using strong encryption.” said Miguel Gamino, acting chief information officer for the City and County of San Francisco. “This is precisely what we have achieved. Expanding the vision to include roaming access across the Atlantic and pioneering the global Wi-Fi experience is exciting."
Global Reach software platform
The Global Reach software platform includes the AAA servers (authentication, authorisation and accounting), Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 device detection, and landing pages with the Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 token.
The Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 provisioning feature configures devices with an ‘anonymous’ credential, which is used to automatically connect to any network honouring the credential and is also a component in the process used to generate the encryption keys for the secure connection.
Users simply click to connect securely. Global Reach then provides each user device with a one-time provisioning file that automatically configures the requisite Wi-Fi settings and encryption without any human intervention. Once a guest registers and is provisioned with the Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 credential, they can automatically and securely connect to any of the WLAN infrastructures whenever they are in range.
"With unprecedented cooperation, we have developed the world’s largest municipal deployment of Hotspot 2.0 technology that is open to the public and available to anyone with a supported device,” added Flavio Aggio, chief technology officer for the Department of Technology of the City and County of San Francisco.
“With this Hotspot 2.0 network in place, we expect more and more peering with other network and authentication providers which will allow us to realize our collective vision for global Wi-Fi roaming."
“With Hotspot 2.0 roaming enabled on San José’s WickedlyFastWifi network, we are now in a position leverage our Wi-Fi infrastructure to promote San José as a destination with the potential of a highly customised user experience,” noted Vijay Sammeta, chief information officer for the City of San José. “We are excited to form partnerships with forward-thinking organisations dedicated to this shared vision.”
The new Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 service is open to other organisations looking to establish Wi-Fi roaming agreements.
Making public Wi-Fi simpler and safer to use
Previously, to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, users in any of these locations had to perform the task of manually selecting from a number of Wi-Fi networks. Using Passpoint Hotspot 2.0, information advertised by Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure tells devices how to automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network if they possess a credential accepted at that hotspot. The credential itself is a SIM card, a security certificate, or a username and password that is agreed and accepted for authenticating users on their networks.
Passpoint Hotspot 2.0-capable devices automatically and securely join a Wi-Fi Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 service whenever the user enters the service area and this also enables seamless roaming between Wi-Fi networks that share roaming agreements.
See also: Ruckus Wi-Fi powers San José and San Francisco Hotspot 2.0 service