Using Passpoint across oceans and borders is no great technical feat, said Farpoint Group analyst Craig Mathias. But that doesn't mean universal free Wi-Fi will take the place of expensive cellular roaming.
"If we wanted to connect the whole world into Passpoint, we could," Mathias said. But where the technology is the same everywhere, the way services are packaged and paid for will vary, he said. Carriers, network operators and hotspot aggregators will continue to compete as they do now, sometimes with free access and sometimes with paid. "You'll see all kinds of hybrids," Mathias said.
One limitation of the roaming setup is that the fully streamlined user experience is only available on Apple iOS and OSX devices, according to Ruckus. Users can easily go from one network to another on some Samsung devices, too, but only those with SIM cards, said David Wright, technical director for Ruckus's carrier business. With non-SIM devices such as tablets, the process is more complicated. That's because OS support is still limited: Passpoint is included in iOS but not yet in Android or Windows, Wright said.
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