Aug 24, 2014

What is WiFi offloading?

What is WiFi offloading and how does it work?


Wi-Fi offload or mobile data offloading or3G data offloading or just offloading, it is all about relieving the congested mobile data networks with additional capacity from unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum.



"The most straightforward way to offload data to the Wi-Fi networks is to have a direct connection to the public Internet. This no coupling alternative omits the need for interworking standardization. For majority of the web traffic there is no added value to route the data through the operator core network. In this case the offloading can simply be carried out by switching the IP traffic to use the Wi-Fi connection in mobile client instead of the cellular data connection. In this approach the two networks are in practice totally separated and network selection is done by a client application. Studies show that significant amount of data can be offloaded in this manner to Wi-Fi networks even when users are mobile."

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.

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