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A number of UK broadband providers have joined the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and will participate in next-generation hotspot (NGH) trials later this year.

BT, Sky and TalkTalk have signed up to represent the UK's fixed broadband sector, while Everything Everywhere will be the mobile broadband participant.

The WBA trials will take place in the final quarter of 2012, using Passpoint equipment approved by another industry body, the Wi-Fi Alliance.

It allows users to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots without having to fill in a username and/or password, increasing ease of access.

The WBA expects the first NGH deployments to take place in the first half of 2013, enabling consumers to take advantage of faster broadband on the move.

The advanced trials will build on the first phase of tests conducted earlier this year which used prototype equipment from a wide variety of different vendors.

During the initial pilot, the WBA tested automatic hotspot discovery and authentication across many different operators' networks.

"Growing mobile data usage is driving a surge of operator interest in public Wi-Fi," stated Shrikant Shenwai, Chief Executive at the WBA.

"Key to this is the development of a new generation of hotspots. Not only do they remove the need for cumbersome log-in procedures, they also support operator roaming agreements giving users broadband access wherever they are."

He said that by employing simple connectivity, open standards and global operator relationships, public Wi-Fi now has "the same crucial ingredients that made cellular technologies such a massive success".

"Many of the world's largest operators are now set to put the first standards-based hotspot equipment through its paces in the most extensive trials ever conducted later this year," Mr Shenwai stated.

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