WPS – new jargon, but good news for the rest of us wireless users

The plan: to make safe Wi-Fi easier: the Wi-Fi Alliance has officially announced WPS: WiFi Protected Setup.

That’s the name for its upcoming consumer ease-of-use program, formerly code named “Wi-Fi Simple Config.”

“Slated for launch in Q4 of this year, the program is planned as an optional certification based on a standardized method for security setup in home Wi-Fi networks,” said the Alliance yesterday

From Glenn Fleishman: “While individual chipmakers Atheros and Broadcom have spent some years trying to get manufacturer uptake for easier security setup, and Buffalo has long had its AOSS hardware button solution on its gear, the whole point of WiFi is that it’s mix and match. As much as vendors don’t like it, you will often find heterogeneous gear in a single household. Thus, a Wi-Fi Alliance backed initiative must take the day
in the end.”

The dream of the Alliance is to make Wi-Fi more ubiquitous. It recently revealed the results of a research survey, conducted with Kelton Research. Among key takeaway data items:

  • The Wi-Fi Lifestyle has Reached iPod Popularity. Think iPods are popular? Not compared to Wi-Fi. Eight out of ten surveyed readily volunteered that they would give up their iPod any day over their home wireless network (80* percent vs. 21 percent).
  • Phone Home? Not so Much.
    When Americans were asked which they would rather give up, their home telephone or wireless computer network, 79 percent responded that they would rather live without a home phone. Only 21 percent said they would part with their home Wi-Fi connection. Surprisingly, suburban residents – who normally may be considered to have more “homebody” tendencies than their urban counterparts – were even more likely to trade in their home phones for their wireless networks than those who live in urban areas (83 percent vs. 74 percent).
  • Honesty is the Best Policy.
    Eighty-two percent of those surveyed indicated that they do not use wireless computer networks to mask their whereabouts (vs. 18 percent who said they have, for instance, telling their boss that they were at home sick, when they were really at a friend’s house).
  • Death of the Home Office.
    It appears that the days of the traditional home office may be coming to an end. A majority of Americans (55 percent) said that at least 2-3 times a week, they worked from home – although it doesn’t mean sitting in a traditional office space. Rather, they’re working in the kitchen, living room, or even in a public space such as a coffee shop or bookstore. Interestingly, older wireless users age 40 to 64 were 10 percent more likely to “work from home” outside of a home office than younger Americans age 18-29, several times a week (42 percent vs. 32 percent).
  • One Hour for Freedom. When asked how long it took to set up current wireless computer networks at home, the average length of time was just 1 hour 8 minutes. Not much time for all the freedom the technology allows.

The Alliance research also “indicates that 43% of Wi-Fi users found that installing security on a home Wi-Fi network was moderately-to-very difficult,” said the pressure group.

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