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Ipass claims one subscription will access many WiFi hotspots

One password to rule them all
Fri Sep 02 2011, 17:27

WIRELESS HOTSPOT ACCESS could be aggregated in the future, according to authentication outfit Ipass.

Accessing WiFi networks in public areas usually means finding a hotspot that is registered to a service to which the consumer subscribes. However, Kevin Murray, VP of product marketing at Ipass told The INQUIRER that in the future it might be possible for users to pay a single subscription fee and get access to multiple wireless hotspots in a single location.

By having a single subscription that allows access to multiple hotspots at a single location, those that provide access will be incentivised to run faster networks. While the customer might pay a single subscription, it is likely that the operators of the WiFi network that is used most will get a greater chunk of that subscription revenue.

According to Murray, software developed by Ipass will allow users to survey which hotspot in the area provides them with the highest possible connectivity. Murray said, "users only have signal bars [on which] to base a judgement on the performance of a wireless network, which at times isn't a reliable indicator".

Ipass handles the WiFi authentication for some of the most widely deployed WiFi networks around the globe, including those run by some major telecom operators, with the firm claiming to federate access to over 500,000 hotspots.

The point of all this according to Murray is that WiFi hotspot access shouldn't be determined by the company the customer has a subscription with, rather the physical location. However, Murray said that at present it isn't possible for Ipass to offer users a service level agreement for bandwidth quality when it comes to wireless hotspots.

Ipass claims that in a recent survey it commissioned, 55 per cent of respondents were working 10 hours a week more than before and 12 per cent claimed to work 20 additional hours a week. Not surprisingly Murray puts this down to the availability of wireless connectivity, however he also said that making authentication with wireless hotspots seamless will further increase time spent working and eventually decrease costs for both consumers and companies.

The idea of paying a single subscription for wireless access and not having to worry about whether the hotspot is run by The Cloud, BT or any other vendor is very tempting. Ipass claims it has the technology to make this possible, so once the operators can work out the best way to divvy up subscription cash, finding a suitable hotspot should become far less of a headache. µ


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