A new study from Juniper Research predicts that at least 1 in 3 home routers will be used as public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2017, and that the total installed base of such dual-use routers will reach 366 million globally by the end of 2020.
The new research, Wi-Fi Hotspots: Deployment Strategies & Forecasts 2016-2020, noted that these so-called ‘homespot’ routers essentially create two wireless networks separated by a firewall: one network is for private use whilst the other is offered as a public Wi-Fi hotspot by the broadband operators. Major broadband operators such as BT, UPC and Virgin Media in Europe and several of the biggest cable TV operators in the US such as Comcast and Cablevision have adopted the homespot model as a low-cost way of rapidly expanding their domestic Wi-Fi coverage.The research pointed out that the rapid expansion of Wi-Fi in this way is also giving rise to a number of global Wi-Fi aggregators such as iPass, which leases its network on a wholesale basis to telcos, cable operators and corporate customers.
The research argued that broadband services were not necessarily making it clear to consumers that their home routers were in effect supporting public Wi-Fi initiatives. It cautioned that when consumers become aware of this dual-use, there was the real possibility of a backlash.