March 20, 2012 / 10:39 AM / 5 years ago

Telcos to ease cellphones' use of WiFi hotspots

A sign advertising free Wi-Fi zone is seen at the Sultanhamet area of Istanbul, Turkey, in this September 30, 2010 file photo.Natalie Armstrong/File

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Within a year cellphones will be able to use operators' WiFi hotspots without cumbersome logging-in procedures, giving consumers faster access to the Internet on the go, a new industry initiative promised on Tuesday.

The initiative from two industry groups - mobile industry lobby the GSM Association and the Wireless Broadband Alliance - aims to provide technical and commercial solutions for WiFi roaming, which would also ease the traffic load on operators' already crowded networks.

WiFi roaming will allow mobile devices to connect seamlessly to a hotspot using a SIM card for authentication, and it enables mobile operators to identify users securely.

"In the long-term vision consumers don't care about what they are connected to," said Dan Warren, technology director at the GSMA.

The industry groups said the first carriers would start to use the new technologies within 12 months, while it would likely take 2-3 years for this to become widespread.

More advanced operators can upgrade their WiFi networks with just a software upgrade, while others will need to change hotspots or servers to enable cellphones to use their networks.

Reporting By Tarmo Virki. Editing by Jane Merriman

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