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.
I get the feeling telcos discourage the wifi offload. They probably feel, retaining services in the cellular bands lets them control their customers. Most of us are in wifi hotspots during office hours or at home except when travelling. We may find we need cellular access only for backup access.
Not a likely scenario but telcos are not known for great foresight or radical changes in business models. Or innovation. I have two telco CEOs in my circle of friends, I should know !
@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
Will it not be simp,er to use wifi inside the building, maybe bridge the baseband protocols and wifi. Since there is a spectrum scarcity, I think it makes sense to stick to a single radio link, wifi and have multiple back ends. Maybe the radio and handover portions of wifi can be decoupled from the upper layers.
In fact it would be a radical telco model, if they were decoupled like wifi providers. the radio network can be a different operator and the back haul a different operator. Works for cable, long distance and wifi. Why not for cellular ? will save enormous spectrum.