updated 01:00 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012
Commercial NGHs coming over next 12 months
Industry association Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) revealed on Thursday that some of the biggest carriers in the world have successfully tested Next Generation Hotspots (NGH). Wi-Fi access to these hubs is much simpler, and the second half of 2012 will see more tests that involve more advanced features. The first commercial NGHs will be built over the course of the next 10 months.
NGHs don't require users to enter names and passwords to access, and thus behave similarly to cellular networks. The scheme might allow carriers to ease the burden on their cellular networks by offloading some of the users to these local hotspots more quickly. Security comes through end-to-end radio link encryption and SIM card authentication on GSM, HSPA, and LTE, again mimicking cell networks.
The tests gauged network discovery and selection, security, automatic authentication in a production environment on, and between, different operators' actual networks using equipment and devices from various vendors.
The companies involved in the tests and backing the technology include carriers AT&T, BT, China Mobile, DoCoMo InterTouch, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, PCCW Mobile, Portugal Telecom, Smart Communications, Swisscom, TeliaSonera, and True Corp. Mobile device makers LG and Intel are also involved, as are network equipment makers Accuris Networks, Aruba Networks, BelAir Networks, Cisco, and Ruckus Wireless. Clearing houses Aicent, BSG, and TNS are likewise present.