The Beacon

Passpoint™: Opening new opportunities for enterprise Wi-Fi®

May 19, 2015 by Michael Montemurro, BlackBerry Ltd.

Originally developed to improve the user experience in operator Wi-Fi® hotspots, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ is gaining traction in the enterprise. Naturally, Wi-Fi’s performance and industry-standard security have made it the primary network for those environments. Now, networks implementing Passpoint bring new opportunities and value to enterprise Wi-Fi deployments.

Since its 2012 launch, products supporting Passpoint have been enabling seamless authentication between hotspot networks and mobile devices, offering a more cellular-like experience and numerous benefits for consumers and operators alike. Passpoint is already transforming the service provider landscape with dozens of operators deploying and trialing the solution. A vast range of network infrastructure equipment and end user devices now carry the certification.

 Three trends have set the stage for Passpoint to play an important role in enterprise deployments:

  1. The transition to BYOD is in full swing, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for enterprises to manage the employee-owned phones, laptops, and other devices being used for business purposes.
  2. There are more varieties of Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices – from smartphones and tablets to wearables and other IoT devices– that need to be managed.
  3. People are more mobile than ever, and more likely to connect multiple devices (including Wi-Fi only devices) to work anywhere – including the customer site, the vendor site, or the partner site, among others. We need easy Wi-Fi access everywhere even when we are a guest, and it’s more convenient to not have to track down IT guy for credentials for authentication.

Passpoint presents a real opportunity for enterprise environments to more efficiently manage access to their networks. One marquee feature: online sign-up. This allows for a more streamlined process for network managers to establish new user accounts on-the-spot and reduce barriers to account creation and usage. Policy provisioning enables IT managers to distribute specific policies, such as which networks to join and in what order of preference, enabling a good user experience without compromising the requirements of their environment.   

Passpoint’s value shines in the context of today’s mobile workforce. The technology lays the foundation for enterprise-to-enterprise Wi-Fi roaming in the same way that it does for global Wi-Fi roaming – offering significant benefits for sales professionals traveling between networks in the same city or across the world.

All of these features improve both the overall manageability and end-user experience for enterprise network access. Here are a few examples of how Passpoint can contribute to enterprise environments:

Guest network access
Passpoint allows enterprise IT departments to provision and enforce policy for guest network access. They can allow frequent visitors to access guest networks without having them sign up each time. They can also manage subscription information for network access based on the specific nature of the visit.

Roaming agreements between companies
Passpoint allows companies to share their networks without having to provide and manage subscriptions separately.

Seamless connectivity for traveling sales professionals
Traveling sales professionals can connect their devices to guest networks seamlessly, removing some of the burden of getting connected while on the road. In addition, service providers can offer visitor-based network access services that leverage established roaming relationships. Enterprise companies can also outsource visitor access to a service provider.

Policy control
With Passpoint, a company has the tools to manage subscriptions on their networks and enforce network access policy. 

Restriction of policy
Enterprises can also restrict the policies for each user with respect to accessing the Wi-Fi network.

New trends in enterprise mobility continue to increase the value that Passpoint can provide for enterprise environments in 2015 and beyond. As enthusiasm for Passpoint continues to mount, Enterprise IT managers should evaluate how the technology can be deployed to meet the specific needs of their environment and begin taking advantage of Passpoint’s benefits now. Wi-Fi Alliance has a variety of resources to help get started, and more information on the program can be found here.   

The statements and opinions by each Wi-Fi Alliance member and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Wi-Fi Alliance or any other member. Wi-Fi Alliance is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by any member in posting to or commenting on this blog. Concerns should be directed to info@wi-fi.org.

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Michael Montemurro

BlackBerry Ltd.

Michael Montemurro is an active participant in the Wi-Fi Alliance task groups that defined and produced Passpoint.

He has been active in the Wi-Fi industry since 2002 and has chaired several  task groups in Wi-Fi Alliance, among which the groups that drove the development of the Wi-Fi Alliance programs for Voice-Personal, Voice-Enterprise, and Converged Wireless  technologies.

Michael works on the development of Wi-Fi technology for BlackBerry Ltd.