Free now automatically switches the connection of its Free Mobile subscribers from a 3G network to a Free WiFi hotspot.
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Nine months after the launch by SFR of the beta-test of its SFR Auto-Connect WiFi service, Free is the first to deliver!
Free Mobile announces today that its customers can now automatically connect to the Free Wifi network to enjoy an Internet connection without using their 3G package.
Free Mobile customers - also subscribers to a Freebox offer in unbundled areas - could already connect their smartphone for free to one of the 4 million Free WiFi network access points. But they had to use a third-party app and manually connect to a hotspot.
Thanks to the EAP-SIM authentication protocol (Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for GSM Subscriber Identity Module), the Mobile Internet connection will be switched to a Free WiFi hotspot automatically and transparently, without interruption or customer intervention.
At least for Free Mobile customers with a compatible device. This is particularly the case for the most recent smartphones marketed by Apple (iPhone), Blackberry, Nokia, or even Android mobiles (Samsung, HTC, etc.).
Called Free Wifi Secure, Free Mobile's EAP SIM network incorporates the 4 million access points of the Free WiFi community network, made up of most of the Freebox 5 and Freebox Révolution fleet in the unbundled zone.
In its press release, Free points out the advantages of this new service, namely the reduction in 3G consumption (fair-use of 3GB/month) and "the considerable improvement in indoor data coverage, particularly in dense areas".
The rapid implementation of the EAP SIM protocol - only 3 months after the take-off of the Free Mobile rocket - also shows the Iliad group's desire to reduce its own bill.
In Wi-Fi (and therefore in ADSL), the IP data of smartphones will no longer transit over the operator's 3G network and even less over that of its partner Orange. Free will therefore save on the roaming contract, avoid filling the pockets of its competitor, and reduce the risk of saturation of its mobile network.
It now remains to obtain the first feedback from users. In Wi-Fi, will the speed be as fast as in 3G? According to the first statements of our colleagues from PC Inpact, it seems that the speed of the connection is voluntarily limited to 1 mbit/s.
Be that as it may, Free Mobile managed to pull the rug out from under SFR, which announced the availability of an equivalent service next June. No doubt other operators will follow quickly. Bouygues already has a community network of one million Bbox access points, while Orange is gradually rolling out its shared Wi-Fi which should have 4 million hotspots by the end of the year.