Wi-Fi offloading is a technique used by wireless carriers to basically reduce usage of their cellular networks by having you use your home or free local Wi-Fi hotspots for your smartphone’s data connection.
It’s expected that 5G services will be handing-off connections to Wi-Fi networks at a staggering pace. The reason is because in all likelihood cellular providers won’t be able to keep up with user’s bandwidth demands, forcing them to embrace Wi-Fi network offloading, which is more commonly referred to as Hotspot 2.0 or Passpoint.
It works by seamlessly transitioning a user device’s cellular connection over to Wi-Fi whenever in range of an access point (AP) configured for Passpoint (this is most common in large cities, public transportation areas, airports and shopping malls). In fact, Cisco predicts 71% of 5G traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks (up from 59% of today’s 4G traffic). In other words, a majority of cellular data users will actually be using a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot for much of the time without knowing it.
Unfortunately, this means 5G users could become more vulnerable to Wi-Fi cybercriminals due to offloading.
For service providers, offloading data traffic frees network capacity while continuing to provide the level of service their customers expect. Retailers, businesses and landlords find value in facilitating data traffic offload by providing their patrons and residents the connectivity they need, where and when they need it.
People expect ubiquitous wireless connectivity everywhere they are, and buildings without mobile connectivity may be less attractive to enterprises and tenants.
Offloading allows customers to make and receive calls and texts over Wi-Fi or other local connections. Often customers aren’t even aware they are making a Wi-Fi call.
Indoor, offloaded networks benefit customers by providing a seamless, out-of-the-box experience using their existing phone and phone number, and extending connectivity into areas where cellular and public-safety networks often don’t reach. Future improvements in Wi-Fi calling will provide a seamless handover between available Wi-Fi and LTE networks along with high-quality voice and next-generation calling features.
Cellular operators have long embraced Wi-Fi as an offload strategy, and several major carriers are supporting the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint service, which automatically moves users to a Wi-Fi service when available.
Visitors from different nations whose cellular providers have no roaming agreements or technology compatibility with U.S. terrestrial networks already use Voice over Wi-Fi when coming into the U.S. to avoid expensive roaming fees.
While some automated soft handovers are available today, as LTE-A releases 16, 17, and 18 roll out and IP-based hard handovers become possible, the seamless use of indigenous Wi-Fi networks for stand-alone and aggregated sessions will enable BYOD users with capped data plans to roam onto any open, available networks.
Want to know more about 5G Wi-Fi Offloading? Tonex offers 5G Wi-Fi Offload Training, a 2-day course that provides an in-depth technical overview of emerging Wi-Fi offload solutions applicable to 5G macro cells and HetNets applications.
Additionally, Tonex offers 20 more cutting edge 5G Wireless courses with titles like:
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.