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Consumer appetite for wireless broadband services is close to hitting a major high, it has been suggested.

As demand for internet access becomes increasingly essential for many homes and businesses, research has highlighted that 2009 saw the popularity of Wi-Fi hotspots become stronger than ever.

The study, published by In-Stat at the end of last year, predicted that the use of hotspots would rise by 47 per cent across 2009, with 245,000 hotspots established across the world.

Frank Dickson, an analyst for the research body, said Wi-Fi has "a renewed life force".

He added that the use of wireless technology has offloaded traffic from 3G networks, while the popularity of smartphones has also changed how hotspots are used.

Broadband provider BT confirmed in August that its wireless services are available to over 500,000 homes, businesses and city centres across the UK and Ireland.

The company operates hotspots in well-known hotel and coffee chains including Hilton and Starbucks.

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