Boingo Wireless (NASDAQ: WIFI), the leading DAS and Wi-Fi provider that serves consumers, carriers and advertisers worldwide, today announced that the company has launched the world’s first commercial Next Generation Hotspot Wi-Fi network at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports with more than 67 million annual passengers.
The Passpoint-enabled network – “Boingo Passpoint” – allows for seamless roaming and carrier offload, automating network identification, authentication and encryption without user intervention. It is now live and available for end-to-end testing by mobile carriers, Wi-Fi operators, and handset manufacturers, especially those already participating in the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s (WBA) Next Generation Hotspot trials.
“We believe that carrier offload will be an important growth driver for Boingo and the Wi-Fi industry at large, especially as standards-based seamless offload methods like this become more prevalent in market,” said David Hagan, CEO of Boingo Wireless. “The sheer volume of users in high-volume, high-traffic locations like O’Hare Airport creates data demand thresholds that can tax traditional mobile networks; Wi-Fi offload via Passpoint creates additional data capacity for carriers without forcing users to jump through hoops.”
“This is a significant step forward for the WBA’s Next Generation Hotspots vision becoming a commercial reality,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO for the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “Moving from the technical trials to major public hotspots provides more access to more members to test their implementations in real world conditions and should help the industry bring this to market in short order.”
The WBA coordinates Wi-Fi operator trials to facilitate seamless Wi-Fi roaming and offload based on several industry standards, as well as the WBA’s own interoperability compliance standards. Boingo actively participates in those trials and is WBA-certified as compliant with established interoperability guidelines.
“Wi-Fi Alliance congratulates Boingo on launching its Passpoint-certified network,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “We are pleased to see service providers recognizing the benefits of Passpoint as an essential component to meet the growing demand for seamless access to Wi-Fi mobile broadband.”
The Wi-Fi network at ORD uses equipment that has been Passpoint certified by Wi-Fi Alliance. Passpoint-certified networks, based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 specification, allow users to benefit from seamless network authentication even while roaming. Passpoint-certified mobile devices are able to automatically discover and connect to the best available network, using the latest in enterprise grade WPA2 security protection.
“In the last year, we’ve upgraded our largest networks with Passpoint-certified hardware, and will continue to upgrade the balance of our managed and operated Wi-Fi networks to ensure we can support seamless, secure roaming network-wide,” added Hagan.