I find it interesting while working my way through different RSS feeds to find information about a new standard that a lot of different WiFi companies are working on to assist and provide alternative mediums for mobile providers to tap into rather than just building out better cellular networks. This technology is titled, “PassPoint” as being pushed by the WiFi Alliance. In plain English, basically it’s a way for cellphones to automatically make use of standard 802.11 wireless network technology that’s out there to offload from cellular towers for mobile data. Think about all the Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook transactions going on in the background of your mobile device, all of these suddenly stop tapping the cellular network and begin leveraging the local WiFi connection that’s available without requiring you to login like you normally would have to at Starbucks or any other WiFi access point that you happen to be tapping into.
While I see this as an interesting idea in reality, I don’t see it as the best idea in practice. If you’re a Public WiFi user, you’ve probably come to find that there are a lot of leaches out there using said public WiFi for illegal purposes so that the traceability to a MAC address is a little more difficult than when connected to a home circuit or when limited to the bandwidth of what a wireless hotspot can provide for. What purposes am I referring to? Things like downloading torrents and otherwise less than savory data types that are found on the Internet.
Regardless, I find it interesting that mobile providers are looking to push individuals from a cellular data connection that’s consuming cycles within a set of frequencies to a wireless access point that then consumes multiple data channels for the call to go through. Considering that most data services that wireless access points in public places are already overrun, it would seem paradoxical that mobile providers would go along with this realizing that they are going to overrun public WiFi APs.
Hopefully this also means that we’ll be able to get better notifications without having to have our mobile devices searching for tower connectivity. I wonder if there are any privacy concerns though…
Nevertheless, perhaps we’ll see something good come of this, perhaps seeing the bandwidth available within Starbucks and other public WiFi APs increase.
Want to read more about PassPoint, check out the official page on the WiFi Alliance: