March 14, 2011

The Future of Hotspots

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, about 200 million households use Wi-Fi networks and there are about 750,000 Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. Wi-Fi is used by over 700 million people and there are about 800 million new Wi-Fi devices every year.

Until recently, mobile operators have viewed unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi as an extension of their fixed broadband business or as a complementary hotspot business, but not as a viable extension of their mobile business. With the introduction of smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform and the transition from a mobile voice business model to a mobile data model, more tier-one mobile operators are taking a closer look at how to take advantage of the unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi as part of their mobile strategy. They are starting to realize that the operator with the best licensed and unlicensed strategy will deliver the most data service and the best mobile experience at the highest profit margin.

This white paper examines the following topics:
  • A review of the usability problems and security vulnerabilities of today's hotspots
  • A description of how IEEE 802.11u, WPA2-Enterprise and standards-based Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) methods can be used to solve the security and usability problems of today's hotspots, making Wi-Fi as secure and as easy to use as 3G cellular
  •  Introduction of Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol (MSAP), which facilitates service discovery, connecting users securely, easily, and immediately to venue-based services.

In short, this white paper describes Cisco's vision for the next-generation hotspot, which moves the Wi-Fi network from an untrusted network to a trusted and integral part of a carrier's network.

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1 Comment

With the rapid proliferation of mobile devices - especially "smart phones" and "pad" or "tablet" devices now being added to the mix of PCs - there's essentially no way that it's reasonable to divorce hotspot usage from the corporate network.

Instead, it is imperative that you take appropriate precautions to ensure that the devices, the data on the devices, and the network itself are not compromised.

This is great paper - especially in that it examines the next generation hotspot and the work being taken on by the Hotspot 2.0 Task Group in the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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