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  • Is Secure Public Wi-Fi In the Near Future?
Technology Articles > Software > Security & Privacy > Is Secure Public Wi-Fi In the Near Future?

No doubt you’ve heard over and over again that public Wi-Fi is not secure and, therefore, is not a good idea when accessing sensitive information. All of this might be about to change, though. Word on the street is that the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on a deal with all the major carriers throughout the United States (for now) to see if a password-free public Wi-Fi system can be set up. This, as you might have discerned, is big news.

Who or what is the Wi-Fi Alliance and how will a secure public Wi-Fi system work? The Alliance and the super long list of carriers involved in this plan are still working out the kinks, but there are a few details to share with you today. First, we’ll start with the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The Details of the Wi-Fi Alliance

The Wi-Fi Alliance – sounds like a team of super villains or heroes, doesn’t it? Not based on fictitious characters, the Wi-Fi Alliance is actually a group of people who make sure that all products live up to a certain standard. You might have seen a “Wi-Fi Alliance Certified” sticker on a device now and then, but not all devices are submitted to the Alliance for approval. Essentially, these folks are the movers and shakers behind all things Wi-Fi, and they are the people who are working on a secure Wi-Fi for all.

So, how will the Wi-Fi Alliance manage to bring together a number of competing carriers? Whether or not all the carriers involved in the new public Wi-Fi venture (and that’s pretty much all carriers out there) will work together nicely has yet to be seen, but the plan has been laid out.

The Passpoint Plan

Carriers all across the world want someone to take some of the burden that these companies are now shouldering. Users demanding lots of data are draining carriers dry, which is why many carriers have signed on to help propel Passpoint forward (the free and secure public Wi-Fi option). Those who wish to use Passpoint would have to pre-authorize devices that would be compatible with the Passpoint network. Methods such as SIM cards and various hardware options would enable network connectivity.

The really great thing about Passpoint (other than the fact that this Wi-Fi network aims to be entirely secure) is that you won’t have log onto a bothersome login screen to use the network. Instead, Passpoint users would simply have to pre-authorize devices and then connect to a Passpoint Wi-Fi network when available. This would, no doubt, take some weight off of carriers who are currently overloaded. Passpoint is similar to the current Next Generation Hotspots that should be rolling out in 2013 (another carrier relief option).

Next Generation Hotspots Already On the Go

Right now, it all has to do with carrier agreements and roaming agreements at this point. You see, under the new public Wi-Fi agreement, users would be able to jump from one network to the next effortlessly. Whatever carrier is closest would be the carrier that a user would use to connect. These terms will currently be tested with the newly implemented Next Generation Hotspots (2013 is the year that these hotspots will be put to the test). The theory behind these hotspots is that users will jump from carrier to carrier and be billed accordingly. If this works out, the free public Wi-Fi that’s also secure will likely happen sooner rather than later.