The tremendous growth in the use of IoT devices and applications has translated into a demand for constant connectivity. Access to premium-quality Wi-Fi coverage is fast becoming a fundamental enabler of this technology and catalysing such access is VAST Networks (VAST), Africa’s public Wi-Fi provider. VAST has engineered Hotspot 2.0 – a IoT platform that onboards consumer devices to a wireless network to ensure uninterrupted high-speed connectivity that is of a premium quality.
Traditionally, to connect to a Wi-Fi service, new users would be directed to a captive portal that requires them to provide information (name, surname, e-mail address, username, password, etc.) before they are granted access to the network’s resources. The Hotspot 2.0 infrastructure allows users to connect their mobile devices using self-authorised, pre-provisioned authentication credentials to enable an effortless and efficient onboarding process. It is also designed to enable non-interactive devices such as TVs, digital billboards and embedded media players to connect to Wi-Fi without human interaction. Point of sale devices can also be easily connected.
“The nature of VAST’s network architecture enables us to continuously explore different methods of authenticating and onboarding users to our network with incremental effort. The ability to conduct equipment upgrades, network optimisations and deploy Hotspot 2.0 in over 2,000 locations – in a matter of weeks – is testament to the flexibility of our network in supporting emerging technologies with minimal time lag,” said Déan Manefeldt, Principal Radio Network Architect at VAST Networks.
Beyond the enhanced connectivity experience for the user, Hotspot 2.0 can also deliver greater value for businesses. By using EAP-TLS/EAP-TTLS verification, ISPs can provide customers with unique, pre-provisioned authentication credentials and manage the end user’s profile pertaining to Wi-Fi access. ISPs can also ensure the security of data transferred over the network as all traffic is encrypted.
“We are proud to have built a ‘do anything’ network and true to our commitment to delivering affordable, premium quality Wi-Fi connectivity, Hotspot 2.0 employs a pay-as-you-go billing model which enables considerable cost flexibility for the ISP and subsequently the end user. It provides ISPs with a smooth process – with no lag time – of authenticating their customers’ access to wireless connectivity,” explained Grant Marais, CEO at VAST Networks.
VAST partnered with equipment vendor, Ruckus Networks, and networking equipment manufacturer and vendor, Cisco, in rolling out Hotspot 2.0. VAST Networks is the first African wireless network provider to roll-out this technology and has already onboarded the world’s largest telecommunications company by revenues, AT&T as well as Provantage, iPoint and Intellicel. Hotspot 2.0 is currently active in more than 2,000 locations.