Although the number of public Wi-Fi access points is increasing steadily, there have been some growing pains. The WLAN Smart Card Consortium hopes to solve some of these by getting Wi-Fi service providers to issue SIM cards to their customers.
All GSM mobile phones use SIM cards to identify their users to the wireless service provider. They have a small amount of memory that holds the subscriber’s information and password, making it easy to log onto the network. The WLAN Smart Card Consortium is hoping to do the same thing for Wi-Fi networks.
Because notebooks don’t have SIM slots, the group has created a device that holds the SIM card and can be inserted into a USB port.
If the consortium’s plan goes into use, customers would carry a USB key instead of having to deal with sometimes complex log-on procedures and forgotten passwords when they want to access a public Wi-Fi network.
Obviously, this doesn’t take into account handhelds, very few of which have USB ports. However, this whole setup exists only as a set of recommended specifications, and the different needs of handhelds might be dealt with later.
Also, there’s the possibility that Wi-Fi service providers won’t do anything with this recommendation. Though the WLAN Smart Card Consortium has the backing of companies like Texas Instruments and Visa, the big service providers like T-Mobile and Cometa are notably absent from the membership list.