An addition to smartphones, offloaded by Wi-Fi

The new Wi-Fi Alliance initiative of Passpoint will allow users to connect to hotspots seamlessly without having to go through the laborious authentication process.

05/28/2012


Hi, my name is Filomena Berardi and I am an addict. Fortunately it’s not to alcohol or drugs but to checking my emails, Facebook or just browsing random junk on the net. Yes, I am a smartphone junkie.

Whether I’m in a coffee shop, at the airport, or at home if I have a spare 5 minutes, I’m on my smartphone aimlessly browsing. I am a victim of Google, YouTube, Facebook and many other sites and apps. I blame them all for my relentless need for another fix of useless information. However, in spite of my constant urge to surf, I live in fear that I’ll go over my data plan. I’ve been caught out a couple of times and have paid a heavy price! So whenever possible I seek out hotspots and use my Wi-Fi at home.

So for me personally and other addicts like me the concept of Wi-Fi data offloading through the new Wi-Fi Alliance initiative of Passpoint means we can get our hit of Internet without going bankrupt.

The Passpoint standard will allow users to connect to hotspots seamlessly without having to go through the, at times, laborious authentication process. This will be enabled through the extensible authentication protocols (EAP) based on the SIM.

I, like many others, see the clear benefits of developing such an infrastructure. Wi-Fi is fairly cost-effective and scalable, especially considering the pace at which demand for data services is increasing. In addition, it is the industry consensus that Wi-Fi will be a supplement to cellular (both 3G and 4G) and part of a clear strategy for the future.

By this, I mean citywide Wi-Fi. Carriers can roll out Wi-Fi for a fraction of the cost of 3G or 4G networks. Through this model, not only can operators reduce the strain on the 3G networks, but it allows them to cater primarily for voice. Furthermore, it will add additional subscriber base and increase the potential revenues per Base Transceiver Stations.

Overall I’m in favour of the new standard and see Wi-Fi as the only real solution to the problem of data congestion. But even I, a Wi-Fi enthusiast, have a few reservations.

Firstly what will happen if I want to use my smartphone for data and there isn’t a Wi-Fi hotspot to hand? Will I be charged as before for going over my data plan? Despite being wireless, most users, use Wi-Fi when stationary, but I like to use my smartphone whilst on the move. Can Passpoint support mobility? What happens when I’m in a busy place like a conference and everyone is being offloaded to Wi-Fi? This will clearly affect user experience and defeat the object of it all. And lastly if I’m constantly offloading to Wi-Fi, what impact will this have on my battery? After all it barely lasts long enough at the best of times, let alone when I’m using Wi-Fi.

When I’ve asked industry experts these questions I’ve had some honest answers. They agree that Wi-Fi users will have their problems; but at the same time there isn’t really a better option.



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