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It’s a method of using WiFi hotspots to automatically offload cellular traffic from 3G or 4G networks. This allows wireless carriers to effectively increase available bandwidth without requiring any investment to upgrade their network. It’s probably buried in the fine print of your cellular contract that you agree to this.
This is what Comcast was doing recently when it started making it’s customers’ routers double as public hotspots. You pay for the equipment, you pay the increased cost for power, you suffer poorer WiFi service, Comcast reaps the benefits.
WiFi offloading is not necessarily a bad thing, but the 2.4Ghz spectrum is so saturated, that adding additional traffic, especially in urban areas, is going to create problems. There are only so many channels, and this just adds to the congestion.