Fixing In-Flight Wi-Fi

Another key benefit is that RCOIs enable auto-connection to other networks in airports, hotels, and additional locations along the passenger journey. That can be particularly attractive to business travelers who need to stay connected when they’re off the plane, too.
technical issues relating to Wi-Fi such as standards development, industry guidelines, trials, certification, and advocacy. WBA works closely with other industry organizations such as GSMA and the Wi-Fi Alliance, as well as regulators. One example is Passpoint, a protocol developed by Wi-Fi Alliance that is a foundational element of OpenRoaming. Dublin, Ireland is an example of how cities are increasingly using OpenRoaming to make it quick and easy for tourists and other visitors to get and stay connected to public Wi-Fi. Visitors to Dublin log in only once upon arrival and then maintain seamless connectivity as their smartphones, tablets, and other Wi-Fi devices automatically switch between different public Wi-Fi hotspots. After their initial log-in to an OpenRoaming-enabled hotspot, Dublin visitors’ devices are automatically authenticated for use every time they switch to another OpenRoaming-enabled hotspot as they travel around the city.

This technology and operational model can be ported to the in-flight market. Implementing OpenRoaming would free passengers from the hassle of manually entering log-in credentials every time they fly. Instead, the aircraft’s network would automatically authenticate and connect them on every flight after their initial log-in at one of that airline’s plane.

Figure 1: Passpoint enables automatic association of passenger devices
click to enlarge

Airlines also could provide Passpoint subscriptions to members of their frequent flyer programs. As Figure 1 illustrates, the aircraft’s network then can use that Passpoint subscription profile to enable automatic association, thus providing frequent flyer members with a cellular-like experience in terms of a transparent connection to the network. The authentication for this subscription could be processed locally on the aircraft, thus enabling association below 10,000 feet, where no Internet connection is available.

Airlines also can add Roaming Consortium Organization Identifiers (RCOIs) to their subscriptions. By broadcasting OpenRoaming RCOIs aboard the aircraft, the network now can be configured once to support many users, eliminating the need to configure each network for multiple cellular providers. Another key benefit is that RCOIs enable auto-connection to other networks in airports, hotels, and additional locations along the


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