AlwaysOn upgrades hotspots PDF Print E-mail

Local WiFi hotspot provider AlwaysOn unveils a wireless Internet service that promises better security and a simpler authentication process.

Following in the footsteps of global telecommunications operators, local WiFi hotspot provider AlwaysOn has announced a WiFi hotspot service that offers enterprise-level security and simplified access via automatic authentication.

“Next-generation” WiFi solution AlwaysOnSmart was unveiled yesterday in a move that AlwaysOn executive director Nico Pretorius says was prompted by the international trend being led by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, a group of global telecom operators.

“It aims to make hotspot 2.0 or next-generation hotspots an integral and strategic complement to other broadband and wireless networks by making it more secure and easier to use.”

Once-off process

Pretorius says WiFi hotspot authentication can be a cumbersome process – particularly with mobile devices – as it requires users to authenticate through a landing or login page. AlwaysOnSmart, he says, allows users to authenticate automatically without the use of any additional client or connection manager software, and without having to supply their login credentials before they gain Internet access. “AlwaysOnSmart users simply follow a once-off registration process.”

According to Pretorius, the encryption protocol used to connect users with AlwaysOnSmart deals with one of the key criticisms of public WiFi – that of limited security. “AlwaysOnSmart connects users over an EAP-TLS connection with AES encryption, which currently offers the most secure enterprise-level network connection.”

The company says it has also developed configuration scripts for Microsoft Windows and Apple devices to simplify the complex configuration associated with EAP-TLS security, allowing users to enable AlwaysOnSmart in a few straightforward steps.

The once-off registration can be done through AlwaysOn`s normal landing page by logging in to “My Account” and selecting the AlwaysOnSmart option.

Network rollout

Pretorius says AlwaysOn has begun the rollout of its new service to the entire AlwaysOn hotspot network, a process that will be completed within the next two to three months.

“Users will be able to track the rollout and view which venues have been enabled for AlwaysOnSmart by visiting http://locator.alwayson.co.za. Any contract, prepaid or roaming partner customer will have access to the service, with a subscription option, offering aggressive pricing, due for launch in the near future.”

He says users should also be aware that the AlwaysOn SSID (the public wireless network name) has changed. “The AlwaysOn service was initially launched under the `Internet` SSID, which was generic enough to let customers know that it was a connection to the Web. However, following the launch of AlwaysOnSmart, the SSID will now be called AlwaysOn or AlwaysOn@(name of venue), for the open network and AlwaysOnSmart, which is the encrypted network that enables auto login.”

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