Hotspot 2.0 (HS2.0) has been a work in process by the Wi-Fi community for better than half a decade. The goal for Hotspot 2.0 is to make the process of Wi-Fi roaming as easy to use and secure as a cellular connection.
As you can probably guess, carriers are excited by the prospect of Hotspot 2.0 because it takes many of today’s manual Wi-Fi tasks, like authentication, and automates them; it lets users roam without hassle and network operators focus on more important things than simple administration.
It achieves this through a truly revolutionary overhaul of the Wi-Fi connection procedure. Using the new IEEE 802.11u protocols, HS2.0 allows the Wi-Fi client and infrastructure to have a pre-association “conversation” about the capabilities and AAA interconnects of a particular Wi-Fi network. The client then makes an automatic decision about whether or not to connect to this Wi-Fi network, or to another that might be in range.
While HS2.0 has been developed and promoted predominately by carriers and equipment suppliers, it will have its greatest impact and appeal within the enterprise. That’s what will make it a game-changer. This is because HS2.0 will be about much more than the technology enablement of a better mobile user experience – it will shift relationships between carriers and building owners, those who want to provide the uninterrupted service as part of their continued strategy to deliver better subscriber experiences, and those who own the locations essential for providing the continuity of service.
Here’s a long (9 minutes), but extremely informative, video on Hotspot 2.0 from David Stephenson, a principal engineer at Ruckus Wireless and currently the Chair of the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Technical Task Group.