back to article Wi-Fi body wants hotspots to override 3G

The Wi-Fi Alliance has proposed to develop a standard that would allow mobile gadgets to automatically log on to public wireless hotspots. Most modern smartphones already support Wi-Fi and automatically route data over such connections if they can, to reduce data flow over pricey - and often slower - 3G HSPA links. The WFA's …


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  1. There's a bee in my bot net

    Won't the ISP providing the bandwidth want a cut of the call/data tarif?

    see title...

    1. Wize

      BT like to resell your bandwidth

      BT business hubs default as openzone points allowing passers by to use your hub and paid for bandwidth. And they are also paying BT for the privilege. Selling the same bit of bandwidth twice.

  2. CDPlant


    Seems like i'm never going to be able to make a dent in my 'all-you-can-eat' data plan if they keep adding wi-fi hotspots everywhere...

  3. JasonW

    No thanks...

    ... I'll stick to the 3G on the phone and/or the wifi hotspot in my pocket... I like to know whose network my data is travelling on.

    Won't be long before some ne'er-do-well piggy backs onto this type of behaviour to fleece the unwitting/witless punter - then there'll be an outcry in the Daily Fail.

  4. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    It had better be configurable !!

    " reduce data flow over pricey - and often slower - 3G HSPA links..."

    I count two sometimes-false assumptions in the above extract.

    My iPhone plan allows 6GB per month. Any use up to that limit is essentially free for me (your circumstances may vary).

    For various boring technical reasons related to my location, my home Wifi hotspot is connected to a DSL that provides only about 1Mbps. The 3G connection can acheive at least 3Mbps. *AND* the home Wifi is often plugged-up with children watching YouTube, leaving nothing for their parents.

    I agree with the approach, but it had darn-well better be configurable in the settings menu.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      @JasonW re.No thanks..

      "..the wifi hotspot in my pocket..."

      As a matter of interest, which service and equipment do you use? I'm considering going down this route.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


      Don't let your mobile device have the password for your home WPA2 wi-fi network. That is what you have... isn't it?

      Secondary option, have two wi-fi networks at home, one of which is switched off most of the time and is the one that your mobile device knows about. Conv!ceivably, one wi-fi hub may support two networks.

      Third, kill the wired home network and do all your business over 3G. I only use 3G internet now, on a Three contract. But I'm not a huge video viewer.

      1. Adrian Smith
        Thumb Up

        Pocket WIFI

        If it helps I am using the Three service in the SE of England. The portable device is giving me about 7 hours continuous service before a recharge is needed. Huawei E585 hotspot/modem cost about £40.00.

        Great in the car too for Internet radio.

    3. Grease Monkey


      This is about public WiFi hotspots not your home WiFi. Unless of course you have public WiFi in your house.

      If your home WiFi is so slow you will presumably never connect your phone to it anyway, so if the phone doesn't know the password what's your beef?

    4. Michael C

      Easy to avoid

      Since at the moment, your phone can bot see the hotspot and also see the 3G data network, and assuming a hotspot registration of some kind or distributed managed hotspot network, 3rd party validation of the hotspot your connecting to is completely possible.

      Granted, this protocol does not yet exist, and needs to be created, but I think that's the intent here:

      1) phone is using data already

      2) phone sees a valid hotspot advertising auto-connect feature

      3) Phine notes HotSpot ID and sends it to the carrier, confirming that hotspot is online, and at the GPS aproximate coordinate.

      4) Carrier sends your phone a code to connect to the hotspot and it enters a pre-authentication state (NAC configuration mode of a sort)

      5) Carrier sends registered hotspot same code.

      6) phone connects to hotspot authentication system and requests code

      7) hot spot give code to phone, phone confirms codes match, phone sends login information to hotspot.

      8) on connect, phone contacts carrier through hotspot

      9) carrier hands off data connectivity to hotspot invisibly to user.

      10) if process fails, codes are not received or do not match, phone alerts you and carrier to rogue hotspot, and you are not connected and never send your user credentials to the hotspot.

      Again, this process/protocol does not exist yet, and would require cooperation between both your phone carrier and the wireless hotspot provider, but for a seamless transfer of active data connections that essentially has to happen anyway...

  5. Richard 51

    Public WIFI had better improve then

    My experience is when my phone does connect to WIFI the signal is generally so poor that I switch back to 3G. Unless of course you are sitting underneath the WIFI box nailed to the wall.

    Lets hope the work on improving connection handshakes also pushes the WIFI providers to put in place more hotspots.

  6. D@v3

    nice idea

    kinda assumes that you have wi-fi switched on all the time.

    I tend to only switch the wifi function in my phone on, if I am actually expecting to be able to connect to something, as much for the fact as it would kill the battery as anything else.

    Even at work, i only activate the wifi if i want to use it, then when im done, switch it back off again.

    Even if this was a seamless and invisible process, I would not want to walk around town with my wifi on all day, on the off chance that I might want to use it, just to find that the battery has died, meaning i cant use it when i do want to....

    1. Rattus Rattus

      If your phone runs Android,

      install Juice Defender. Turns off radios for you when they're not in use and turns them back on when the screen is on and briefly every fifteen minutes or so to check if anything's waiting. You can leave Wi-Fi on all the time and still get better battery life than turning Wi-Fi on & off manually.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    "It also wants the system to allow data already travelling over a 3G link to be automatically and invisibly - to the user - re-routed through a hotspot that has come into range."

    "automatic hotspot sign-on using pre-programmed credentials"

    People running Jasager ARE going to have a lot of fun with these... And re-directing everyone to kittenwars is going to be one of the most innocent ways of having said fun:

  8. sparksalot

    Foiled by...

    Oops, I left my Wi-Fi off.

  9. ian 22

    Invisible to the user?

    I'd hope not. What would be the point if the hotspot weren't visibly faster than 3G? Pointless to the user, that is.

    In any case 4G will be ever so much faster. Won't it be? Hello?

  10. Bradley


    Our phones have a hard enough time handing themselves between like towers, and now you want to throw another factor into the mix? What if you're in an area with multiple 3G and wifi hotspots available to you? I can see my battery draining already.

  11. Michael C


    1) there needs to be a DAMNED good system for ensuring my phone does not automatically connect to and hand my credentials over to a rogue hotspot, and this will certainly require an as yet undeployed additional 802.11x-like protocol, and could still be abused, so I;d insist on it ONLY connecting to hotspots I have pre-authorized.

    2) Upon connecting, it should validate the throughput of the AP is in fact better than the 3/4G connection before switching or NOT automatically swing me to the *(slower) connection.

    3) it better work equally in reverse, and also inclusive of not disrupting encryption tunnels in the process. If I'm VPN'd in from the back seat of a car, the driver stops at a traffic light near a favored coffee shop, i do NOT want to lose that VPN when it changes networks.

    4) I assume, since they're essentially natted, that tethered connections would be unaffected by the switch too.

    5) when leaving the area of the hot-spot, if I'm also on a call, and if for some reason it can't do voice/data concurrency, i want it to either (preferably) convert the call to VoIP and move it over to data, also seamlessly to me, and maintain any active data conenction, or instead (les soptimal) beep in my ear and let me know i need to loose one or the other connection and let me CHOOSE which one...

    While off topic a touch, when I'm using a mobile hot-spot in my phone, and can't do concurrent voice data for some reason, instead of cutting off my data connection to take the call, PUT IT THOUGH VOIP!

  12. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    @Grease Monkey

    Wifi password? No, the wifi at my house is wide screaming open. When one has dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of wifi-enabled gadgets, fiddling with passwords is boring and a waste of time. Sekuritee is provided by acres of spruce trees, further supported by a 'who cares?' attitude.

    And even *if* one were to not inform the phone of the wifi password (where applicable), then one would be constantly typing and erasing the password as circumstances and desires change.

    All I'm asking for is a setting to be able to override somebody's otherwise good idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "And even *if* one were to not inform the phone of the wifi password (where applicable), then one would be constantly typing and erasing the password as circumstances and desires change."

      But if your 3G is better than your broadband I'm still at a loss to understand why you would even have WiFi enabled on your phone. Or better yet swap your ADSL router for a 3G model and really confuse your poor phone.

      That's something that the providers here seem to be missing. What if the public WiFi hotspot is actually using 3G to access the internet? I can think of a couple of hotspots that do just that because you simply can't get reliable broadband at those locations.

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