You're right, Rick. It's nothing more than an ongoing progression into smaller and smaller cells, to accommodate more and more users within a given amount of spectrum. They're calling these new and even smaller cells "femtocells," last I've seen. But really, it's just a progression of something that's been happeneing for a long time.
And, for home use, these smaller cells will (or can, at least) use your broadband access as their backhaul network, so in essence, not so different from "WiFi offload."
As I understand it the rapid ramp in use of smartphones and mobile data is putting huge pressure on carrier nets, especially in urban areas. A heterogeneous network (HetNet) of small cells filling in between traditional macro cells in urban areas is now widely seen as the solution. There will be indoor, outdoor and home versions of small cells, and they are still being defined.
It's very complicated to get right. The carriers are trying to leveragre WiFi, too. Many have bought enterprise WiFi gear companies. But its another wrinkle in an already complex job of building out their nets.
@GSMD: Wi-Fi is a part of the Ericsson strategy, and part of pretty much everyone's small cell strategy although details are fuzzy to me. Here's what ABI analyst Nick Marshall said in a bullet point about Radio Dot:
· Integrates with Ericsson WiFi and can do real-time traffic steering Wi-Fi/3GPP