Rise of the homespot: Researchers predict more and more broadband providers will turn home routers into Wi-Fi access points
One in three home routers will act as public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2017, according to Juniper Research, which says communications providers will use the ‘homespot’ model to expand their wireless footprint and offload mobile traffic.
BT in the UK is one of the operators employing this method, with its customers routers used to create additional access points for the BT Wi-Fi network. This involves the creation of two networks – one for the customer and another for the wider public.
Such a model could facilitate the creation of hybrid networks comprising cellular and Wi-Fi infrastructure, while others are looking to create carrier-grade Wi-Fi calling or services for connected cars and the Internet of Things.
Wi-Fi aggregators such as iPass add these hotspots to their networks on a wholesale basis and sell access to operators and companies around the world.
More and more telecoms providers are getting in on the act, with Virgin Media notifying customers of its plans to turn their routers into hotspots last year. However some question whether operators are clear enough about their intentions.
The deal is often sweetened by the promise of free or subsidised access to the nationwide network, but experts say that the model risks a customer backlash.
“While most operators now allow consumers to opt-out, if they so wish, most consumers simply have no idea that their routers are being used in this way,” said research author Gareth Owen. “Given the current concerns around privacy and data security, the realisation that home routers can be accessed by complete strangers is unlikely to be viewed in a positive light.”
Juniper believes there will be 366 million ‘dual-use’ routers in place by the end of the decade.
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