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 Homespot Model
The new research, dubbed ‘Wi-Fi Hotspots: Deployment Strategies & Forecasts 2016-2020,’ and which is on sale to relevant parties at relevant parties, 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.
Juniper doesn’t mention it in its media release, but we know that Telstra is doing this in Australia, and companies such as Tomizone have been doing this independently of carriers for years.
Juniper’s 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 such as telcos, cable operators and corporate customers.’
So, what about Security and Privacy Concerns?
Juniper’s 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.’
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.”
More detail below, please read on.
Nevertheless, Juniper notes its research ‘highlighted the consumer benefits that the policy offers, such as free or reduced-fee access to the operator’s homespot network.’
As per usual, Juniper has a compimentary whitepaper available, this one dubbed, ‘Hitting the Wi-Fi Hotspot’, with further details of the full research to tempt you into buying it.