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Hotspot 2.0 will enable enterprises to wholesale Wi-Fi access

David Callisch, VP of marketing, Ruckus Wireless | April 10, 2013
The most widely anticipated but least understood "next big thing" in the networked world is Hotspot 2.0 (HS 2.0).

Online sign-up targets Wi-Fi-only devices that don't have SIM cards such as laptops and tablets. Online sign-up allows the infrastructure to transparently place a credential (e.g., x.509 PKI certificate) on the device, giving the user the option to "sign up" one time to register for a Wi-Fi service.

Equipment vendors are already supporting HS 2.0 in software that can literally be turned on with new and existing equipment and most handset vendors supporting the technology within their operating systems. In other words, enabling Hotspot 2.0 will require only software upgrades to exiting infrastructure and user devices.

With HS 2.0, there looms a massive opportunity for enterprises to create agreements with carriers of all shapes and sizes to wholesale Wi-Fi capacity. But doing this will dramatically change how enterprises need to build out their wireless LAN networks -- driving new requirements for higher capacity and more industrial-strength equipment.

Hotspot 2.0 puts much more pressure on enterprises to build Wi-Fi networks that can stand an order of magnitude more user capacity. While carriers will see a triple bonus of offload, keeping customers on "their" networks and providing their customers with automatic access to the Wi-Fi networks they (the customers) want to be on. As mobiles join the Wi-Fi network automatically, venue owners can realistically expect to see about a 10x increase in the number of sessions.

How Hotspot 2.0 will work in the enterprise

A single SSID will be used to advertise automatic authentication to a large number of "home" service providers.

The Access Network Query Protocol (ANQP) is then used to let the devices know which providers have roaming arrangements with the local venue. Some providers will be included in the ANQP advertisements from the AP, while the mobile device may request the complete list. Providers may be listed using any or all of the following identifiers:

  • PLMNID: Mobile Operator Country Code (MCC) + Network Code (MNC)
  • NAI: Network Address ID (i.e., domain name), e.g.,
  • Roaming Consortium Organization Identifier: This is assigned by IEEE to a single entity or group of entities with pooled authentication

An 802.1x authentication request from the mobile device is forwarded by the local venue WLAN to the home provider via RADIUS.

An essential element in the roaming process, the HLR (home location register) is the database within a GSM network that stores all the subscriber data. If the home provider is a fixed operator, the request could be cleared through their RADIUS infrastructure and subscriber management system. AAA accounting records can also be provided from the local WLAN to the home provider AAA server for billing purposes.

The Generic Advertisement Service (GAS) protocol provides for Layer 2 transport of an advertisement protocol's frames between a mobile device and a server in the network prior to authentication. The GAS protocol transports ANQP elements between clients and APs, allowing a mobile device to query an AP prior to association to determine the network's capabilities and reachability information.


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