First Look at 802.11u

First Look at 802.11u

By CWNP On 03/29/2012 - 15 Comments

At the end of Q1 2012, much of the industry’s attention this year has been given to Hotspot 2.0, 802.11u, and the heterogeneous network (hetnet). As an industry, we’re watching (or will be watching) the unlicensed underdog take its rightful place as a mature, mission-critical technology for enterprises and carriers. If Wi-Fi is not already everywhere, give it 12 months.

In the meantime, I want to give a pat on the back to our friends at Cisco for being the first WLAN vendor to release public code with Hotspot 2.0/802.11u support. Officially, WLC version 7.2 firmware includes it. Keep in mind that this is the first release, and the feature scope of this release is only a part of what we should expect in the next year.

[caption id="attachment_13289" align="aligncenter" width="531" caption="Cisco WLC 802.11u Configuration Menu (Click to Enlarge)"][/caption]
Hotspot 2.0 support by the WLAN infrastructure doesn’t mean much to end-users today because there are no (publicly available) clients, and the backend integration with carriers or other authentication paradigms hasn’t happened yet. Nonetheless, aside from other “will be available in the future” product announcements and plugfest trials, this is the first widely available hands-on exposure of 802.11u.
To ease my curiosity, I configured a simple 11u WLAN and sniffed a beacon. Not surprisingly, none of the most popular (AirMagnet, Wildpackets, Wireshark) analyzers could decode the 11u elements.

[caption id="attachment_13288" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Basic 802.11u Decode (Click to Enlarge)"][/caption]
In the packet details shown above, you’ll see the three consecutive 802.11u elements for which the element is not named and the ID values are still shown as “reserved” numbers.
ID=107 is the 802.11u Interworking element.
ID=108 is the 802.11u Advertisement Protocol element.
ID=111 is the 802.11u Roaming Consortium element.
Final Comments and Suggestions (FCS)
WLAN infrastructure support for 802.11u is the inevitable first step toward transparent handovers. However, it’s only one piece in a multifaceted and complex ecosystem of “interworking.” We’re on the way to something useful, and Q2 will make that reality more clear. A tip of the hat to Cisco for pushing this boat off the dock.

Tagged with: Cisco, Hotspot 2.0, 802.11u, Interworking, Release 7.2

15 Responses to First Look at 802.11u

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jenny singh Says:
01/20/2018 at 13:02pm
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07/25/2012 at 02:57am

Hello Marcus,

the above 802.11U WLAN settings are on which client like windows or linux. Does it require driver support ? which wifi adapter used?

07/18/2012 at 05:18am

Dear Marcus,
Thanks for your reply.
It seems Samsung Galaxy has certified for passpoint(802.11U).

I need to develop drivers for client(laptops mainly windows) for supporting 802.11U. I think mostly MAC layer enhancement will be their for 802.11U support.

If you know any additional Information regarding implementation 802.11U support to client side please let me know.

thank you,

07/17/2012 at 08:54am
david, The client-side requires software upgrades as well, but does not require hardware upgrades. I don't think there are any client devices with 802.11u-enabled firmware right now--general availability, that is. They should start coming in a few months, though.

07/16/2012 at 01:13am

dear All,
Can you please tell me the 802.11u does it require change in MAC layer or wifi adapter in client side like laptops...? It seems to be there is not change required in hardware side. If so please let me know the wifi adapter which supports 802.11U amendment for client side.

Howard Thamm Says:
05/08/2012 at 09:56am
The Wi-Fi Alliance has also published the specification for the Hotspot 2.0 certification program on their website for $199.

Howard Thamm Says:
04/30/2012 at 23:10pm
The Wi-Fi Alliance has a Hotspot 2.0 web site up, along with a white paper to download. They are calling the program: Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™

Dale Smith Says:
04/16/2012 at 09:13am
It's coming. I work for a large telecommunications vendor with a customer who is interested in data off load with Metro Cells. I've noticed the WLAN AP attachment on the bottom of the Metro Cell. That's also why I am on this site ...

Scott Stapleton Says:
04/07/2012 at 21:32pm
Not a definitive list but quite useful -->

04/06/2012 at 15:27pm
Best bet would be an advanced search of the wifi alliance certificate database.

J Kirk Says:
04/06/2012 at 12:01pm
does anyone know the prevalence of 3-stream client devices out there today? or where to find that information?

04/03/2012 at 15:15pm
The latest development release of Wireshark (1.7.0) can decode most ANQP elements.

03/29/2012 at 16:22pm
Access network types drop-down also includes all options found in Table 7-43bh:
Private network
Private network with guest access
Chargeable public net
Free public net
Personal device net
Emergency services only net
Test or experimental

03/29/2012 at 16:08pm
Hey Dave,
Thanks for the comment! Yes, you're right and thanks for the nitpick. :) Cisco's features are a subset of 802.11u and not Hotspot 2.0, even though the Cisco release notes state "Hotspot 2.0" support. Shame on me.
The Auth Types (for readers that don't know) drop-down refers back to a field in the Interworking element (Access Network Options field) called "ASRA", short for Additional Step Required for Access. Cisco includes three of the possible values shown in 802.11u (Table 7-43bl):
Acceptance of Terms/Conditions
On-line enrollment
http/https redirection
DNS redirection is not supported here.
The EAP types are configured as part of the Realm info, and yes, they are supporting all four EAP types (TLS, TTLS, SIM, and AKA) as well as LEAP, FAST, and PEAP.
Thanks for the good questions.

03/29/2012 at 12:26pm
Hey Marcus,
Thanks for posting. This is my first look at what 802.11u/HS2 infrastructure configuration might look like. Hoping to set up my own testbed soon.
Are those all the configuration options available currently? It seems like they've got the basic ANQP elements covered (net type, auth type, hessid, and the three net selection options - OUIs/Consortiums, Realms and PLMN ID/CellOperator ID). I'm assuming they plan to add the extended ANQP elements in later releases (WAN metrics, connection capabilities, etc...) if they're not on an advanced options page already.
What are the auth type options? Are they showing support for all four EAP types?
This is admittedly nitpicky, but be careful talking about supporting HS2.0. Hotspot 2.0 is still a draft spec (actually there are two draft specs; Hotspot 2.0 and Hotspot 2.0 Operator Policy), and isn't expected to be finalized until the summer. I wouldn't expect much to change between now and then, especially on the airlink side of the solution, but it is still a draft for now.
Thanks Again,

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