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Public Wi-Fi has greater potential for meeting data demand, particularly as more people access broadband services using mobile devices.

This is the view of Ofcom, which has mapped the distribution of these hotspots across the UK for the first time.

According to the media regulator, there are now 16,000 Wi-Fi access points in places like cafes, transport hubs and other public spaces.

But at present, consumers seem to prefer using their mobile network for internet access when out and about, Ofcom noted.

The regulator explained that around 25 times as much data is currently downloaded over mobile networks as via public Wi-Fi.

"This suggests there is an untapped opportunity for public Wi-Fi to help meet consumers’ growing thirst for data," Ofcom stated.

Earlier this year, Jeremy Hunt - the then Culture Secretary - claimed that a combination of technologies is needed to cope with rising broadband usage in the UK.

He said that with the wider availability of tablets, dongles and smartphones, mobile data demands are tripling every year.

Mr Hunt claimed there should be "no false choice" between mobile and fixed line, or fibre and high-speed wireless.

"All technologies - including satellite - are likely to have a part to play," he argued.

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