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Wireless system supports 802.11u, HotSpot 2.0

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiFi? mobile network? consumer electronics?

Ruckus Wireless Inc. has affirmed that it will integrate support for the emerging IEEE 802.11u protocol in its Smart WiFi system for the next year. The company has also presented the WiFi Alliance's Hotspot 2.0 specification with a major U.S. operator.

With the unprecedented growth of WiFi enabled devices coupled with an exponential increase in data traffic hitting cellular networks, operators around the world are looking for solutions to offload data traffic onto higher bandwidth technologies such as WiFi. However, connecting to a public WiFi network is often cumbersome, requiring users to manually select the network they would like to use and conditioning their devices to properly operate with the network.

Widely viewed as a significant evolutionary milestone for WiFi, 802.11u and Hotspot 2.0 address these problems by simplifying the use and integration of WiFi within mobile networks.

A common set of standards created by the WiFi Alliance, Hotspot 2.0 uses 802.11u as a fundamental building block to effectively automate the network discovery, registration and access steps a WiFi user must manually take today when connecting to a given hotspot.

With 802.11u and Hotspot 2.0, users automatically connect and authenticate to the best available WiFi network without having to fiddle with tedious configuration settings on their devices, Ruckus noted. This provides an experience comparable to how cellphones work when users roam to a new location with the phone automatically determining, connecting to and authenticating with the best cellular network.

The support requires changes to occur on both WiFi access points and consumer electronics devices such as smartphones or tablets. 802.11u-capable WiFi access points advertise their support for the protocol, providing information to client devices prior to association. With this, client devices can decide what network is most suitable and automatically configure settings to connect to the desired WiFi network, added the company.

Hotspot 2.0 offers the future possibility of a range of benefits for operators looking to optimize their mobile network infrastructure such as selectively offloading IP traffic that doesn't need to traverse cellular core networks, and service advertisement and monetization. They improve end-user experience through an automated network selection, authentication and roaming by devices, and flexible authentication options to support multiple devices and roaming agreements, Ruckus stated. They also feature in-band account provisioning, network type advertisements (private, free public, paid public) and network capability advertisements through the new layer 2 protocols.

IEEE 802.11u and Hotspot 2.0 support are expected to be delivered as free software upgrades for Ruckus access points and controllers when released next year.

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