Xirrus takes aim at headaches of ‘guest’ Wi-Fi networks

It’s enough to keep you on your phone’s data connection – the annoying guest wireless network. Maybe it’s got a clunky, slow-loading web portal to navigate. Maybe the password is hard to find. Or maybe it’s entirely open, but you noticed that a seedy-looking guy over there has Wireshark open on his laptop.

Wireless hardware vendor Xirrus, however, is rolling out what it’s hoping is a way to simplify Wi-Fi management and make the experience less annoying – the company this week has announced an mobile data management (MDM) suite called EasyPass.

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EasyPass is made up of three core modules, which are managed via a central public cloud console. EasyPass Onboarding is designed for, well, onboarding – providing a quick and easy way to get new employees or students registered for the network, without having to bother the IT department. EasyPass Guest lets users self-register or use their social media credentials to connect to the Internet, and EasyPass Voucher offers an automated option for managing guest accounts via access codes, hooking into ticketing and POS systems so that the codes can be sold or distributed.

Client devices – EasyPass currently supports iOS, Android, OS X and Windows – don’t need to install an app or a certificate to gain access, since the whole thing works via pre-shared keys unique to every user, which the system generates. Simply entering the password when connecting to a secure network obviates the need for a captive portal or client app, and works across multiple devices.

The pre-shared key approach isn’t entirely novel – Aerohive, for example, already uses it in its ID Manager product. But with the focus on ease of use, it’s not a surprising choice. Xirrus has been busily updating its product line recently, having rolled out a new quad-radio 802.11ac access point (the XD-4) just last month.

EasyPass is available immediately and at no additional charge to users of Xirrus’ XMS-Cloud management service, which costs $55 per year, per radio.

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