Consumers unaware of homespots, as demand grows for dual-use routers

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Wi-Fi providers need to do more to inform consumers that their home routers are being used as public hotspots, after new research claimed almost a third will be used in this way by next year.

Juniper Research said the installed base of dual-use routers will reach 366 million worldwide by the end of 2020.

Despite the growth of these routers, the researchers said consumers were largely unaware the devices were also boosting public Wi-Fi networks.

Research Author Gareth Owen said: “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. 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.”

Dual-use routers, also known as homespots, effectively create one public and one private network separated by a firewall. 

The report said telcos such as BT, UPC and Virgin Media have been deploying homespots across Europe as a low-cost method of extending its Wi-Fi coverage. The expansion of this technology has led to the emergence of companies such as iPass, which leases its network to telcos, cable companies and enterprises.

[Read more - iPass reaches 50 million hotspots with Devicescape tie-up]

Wi-Fi is set to be a mainstay of wireless connectivity, with ABI Research predicting indoor data traffic will grow by 600 percent between now and 2020.

By 2018, Wi-Fi traffic will be greater than combined 2G, 3G and LTE cellular traffic.