This blog was submitted for publication by iPass.

By now, I don’t know how many times you’ve heard it. Data is growing exponentially, with no end in sight. One of the main contributing factors: consumer video use. The challenge has been clear for some time now, how do we accommodate the resulting, increased demand for bandwidth. One of the main solutions has long been leveraging Wi-Fi networks, which enables operators to more inexpensively scale capacity to meet their subscribers’ needs. But anybody who knows Wi-Fi knows: Wi-Fi isn’t without its own set of challenges. And challenges, like the following, have forced the big players in Wi-Fi to innovate:

· Need for simple connectivity, i.e., no user intervention
· Need for easy and seamless access, i.e., use of Wi-Fi networks while roaming, inbound and outbound
· Need for enhanced security, i.e., secure link layer encryption of data use and auto-authentication

Since 2011, the Wireless Broadband Alliance, the industry association formed to promote interoperability between operators in the Wi-Fi industry, and its members have been conducting trials with one of those innovative efforts: Next Generation Hotspot, created by Cisco in 2010.

So what is Next Generation Hotspot (NGH)? NGH encompasses Passpoint technology, an industry-wide solution to streamline network access in hotspots and eliminate the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they connect, and enables offload to carrier-grade Wi-Fi networks without user intervention. In a nutshell, NGH creates a truly ubiquitous connected experience, removing the pain of logins, passwords, and other user headaches, so that you can enjoy a seamless, automatic Wi-Fi connection.

NGH also provides clear security benefits, providing an automatic, encrypted connection. With several IEEE 802.11 security features, NGH also transforms the security position of devices connected to hotspots with guaranteed mutual authentication and over-the-air encryption, as well as peer-to-peer traffic.

As mentioned, Cisco created the original NGH specification back in 2010. But it’s been over the last few years that we’ve seen a critical mass of user equipment manufacturers, network operators, and hardware vendors bringing their offerings up to NGH specification. For instance, nearly all user equipment is Passpoint-compliant. And that brings us up to this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

By itself, an NGH network doesn’t steer individual connections based on predictive analytics. So the value of our iPass SmartConnect cloud platform is that it enables Quality of Service ranking and intelligent network selection on Wi-Fi-only devices.

Interested in learning more about NGH at MWC 18? Click here.