The last few weeks have seen some significant changes to the technology environment that will impact the experience of Captive Portal users across the world. Convenience has long driven the guest preference for an easy to connect, and stay connected, Guest WiFi experience in Hotels, residential, and wider hospitality settings based on a device MAC address. Many innovations in recent years have leveraged device MAC to enable features like Welcome Back and Cross-brand roaming.
Airangel even moved to a metric that measured how many times we could avoid showing the portal to a guest and just provide them with working internet. A goal that really resonated with our Hospitality customers.
There have always been alternative approaches, which promote enhance security, but also introduce additional friction for the guest. The support of these different technologies by the big mobile device vendors, Apple and Google, has been mixed and therefore the guest experience was always inferior, the trade-off for guests was too great, convenience was paramount. Widespread adoption on overnight visitor networks of Hotspot 2.0 has not gained any momentum.
But things are about to start changing in a big way. Apple and Google are introducing various flavours of MAC randomisation to enhance the privacy of device owners who were being tracked by some of the more unscrupulous network operators, platforms and governments.
An unfortunate by-product is that by hiding the real device-MAC guests will now be treated as unknown and consequently devices will be blocked from the internet, guests will see portals much more frequently.
This is also expected to cause problems with other systems that depend on a known static device MAC, think about casting content from a mobile phone to a guest room TV, mapping the device will need to take place with each new MAC. For lawful intercept logging, the MAC data becomes much less valuable.
The push towards Hotspot 2.0 authentication has now reached a tipping point and it will begin to form and important part or even the best way to connect many of your loyal overnight visitors to your WiFi networks from September 2020 when iOS14/Big Sur is released (Sept 2021 for Android 12). For more information on Airangel Hotspot 2.0 solutions and how they can help to maintain your frictionless guest experience please visit Airangel.com/hotspot2
Feeling brave and want to try it out for yourself? Head over to Apple and install the public Beta 1 release at beta.apple.com