How far should a leader seek to change public opinion, to get out in front rather than follow? Lincoln famously said, \u201cPublic sentiment is everything,\u201d but the quote concludes with, \u201cHe who moulds public sentiment\u2026 makes decisions possible.\u201d It\u2019s an enduring debate in the hinterland of academia where engineers seldom tread.\nBut standards can be like that. They often package basic, universal features with more decorative additions that offer transformational improvements but are of minority interest. There\u2019s a risk that the burden of implementing these additional features will deter some vendors, and they may shun the standard altogether. If too many follow this course, the standard will fail in the market.\u00a0\n+ Also on Network World:\u00a0Is Wi-Fi finally \u2018fast enough?\u2019 +\nIt\u2019s a delicate balance: A simple standard that reflects what product managers want today may be widely adopted but not move the industry forward, while an over-ambitious standard will fail if vendors are not persuaded that the future benefits exceed the costs of implementation.\nThe Wi-Fi Alliance and the Passpoint certification\nThe Wi-Fi Alliance has been navigating this minefield with the Passpoint certification.\u00a0 Passpoint is inspired by the cellular roaming system, where a phone that cannot find a signal from its home carrier automatically seeks out alternatives, prioritizes them and connects to the best choice of access point.\nTo do this in Wi-Fi, access points advertise which carriers they can connect to \u201cpre-association,\u201d so a device can quickly scan and see what choices are available. They then allow the device to authenticate to its home carrier and get an internet connection, with fully encrypted privacy and security.\nThe Wi-Fi Alliance took the IEEE 802.11u amendment in 2010, extracted some features and developed Passpoint (release 1), which launched in mid-2012.\nUnfortunately, the phone vendors did not show up. One year after the certification launch, you could not buy a certified device anywhere.\nWas the standard too complicated to implement? Was no one in the smartphone world was interested in Wi-Fi roaming? Had the Wi-Fi Alliance got the balance wrong?\nMany of us were ready to give up on Passpoint, but then\u2014progress. Apple added support to iOS 7 in late 2013. Overnight the population of Passpoint-capable devices went from zero to 50 percent. (\u201cEnterprise\u201d APs have been Passpoint-certified from the beginning, it is phone vendors that have lagged.) Then Samsung came out with an implementation on Android.\nThese breakthroughs got a number of commercial hotspot networks started with Passpoint. But still, it was questionable whether the standard had momentum. Then late in 2015, Google caught up and added support for Passpoint into the base Android load, as of Android M and N.\nToday, all iPhones and many Android devices support Passpoint release 1. This isn\u2019t quite the whole universe of eligible devices, but others are joining in\u2014notably Microsoft with Windows 10. The outlook for Passpoint release 1, cloudy for the first three years, is now bright.\nHistory is repeating with Passpoint release 2\nBut once again the standards and the market moved at different speeds. The original Passpoint standards work generated intense excitement among many service providers, and directly following release 1 the Wi-Fi Alliance started on a follow-on standard: Passpoint release 2. The new features enable online signup: a way to standardize and automate provisioning from that splash page you see on your phone when entering an airport, showing various subscription options.\nThe Passpoint release 2 certification launched in late-2014, two years after release 1.\u00a0 And now we see history repeating. In mid-2016, two years following the Passpoint release 2 launch, no release 2-certified devices are available. Possibly it will pick up after a time lag, like release 1. But we must ask whether release 2 contained too many minority-interest features or went too far ahead of the market. It may never catch on.\nAnd amid this uncertainty, the Wi-Fi Alliance made an ambitious move. In early 2016, it withdrew release 1 certification, forcing all new devices to comply with the full release 2 bundle.\nThe intention was to coerce manufacturers to implement the full set of release 2 features. The actual result\u2014for now\u2014has been that they refuse to certify. They say the costs of release 2 outweigh the benefits. While many phones include Passpoint release 1, none has been submitted with release 2 features since the change.\nWhere does this leave us? Passpoint\u2014the release 1 features\u2014has tipped the scales and will become a required feature for all new phones. This is good news for Wi-Fi service providers and consumers because they can move forward with secure, automatic, standard Wi-Fi roaming.\nBut Passpoint release 2 may never be adopted, as phone vendors design their own provisioning techniques that are likely to become entrenched.\nAnd there is a risk that none of these devices will display the \u201cWi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint\u201d stamp. Whether this should worry us is a question for another day.