Time Warner Cable and wireless ISP Boingo signed a roaming deal in June, which allows TWC’s broadband customers to use Boingo’s Wi-Fi hotspots at airports and convention centers and Boingo subscribers to tap TWC’s growing network of outdoor hotspots in its cable territory. These kinds of deals are pretty standard fare among Wi-Fi operators, but in this case there was one big difference.
The two agreed to use a new Wi-Fi networking standard called Hotspot 2.0 to link their networks, and on Wednesday they announced that feature is finally enabled. What that means for [company]Time Warner Cable[/company] and [company]Boingo[/company] customers is that their smartphones can move securely between and automatically connect to those two networks without requiring any kind of manual registration or login.
That may not seem huge, but simple deals like these mark the beginning of a new era in public Wi-Fi in which every operator could negotiate dozens, if not hundreds, of Wi-Fi roaming deals and offer their customers expansive hotspot footprints. Today we live in a world of segregated networks, granting access to those armed with the proper passwords or the willingness to go through a registration screen. That isn’t exactly conducive to creating a seamless wireless network experience.
But with Hotspot 2.0, all of those credentials are handled in the network. Newer smartphones with Wi-Fi Alliance-certified Passpoint clients can automatically link to any network they’re authorized to use. Right now the industry is slowly adopting Hotspot 2.0, signing one-off deals such as Boingo and TWC’s and the recent cross-city limits agreement between San Jose and San Francisco. Hopefully we’ll see these partnerships expand beyond just two parties, creating truly global hotspot networks