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One-third of home routers are to be used as public Wi-Fi hotspots inside two years, a new study suggests.

According to Juniper Research, so-called homespot routers create two wireless networks - one of which is for private use and the other is separated by a firewall and used as a public Wi-Fi hotspot by broadband operators.

This model has already been adopted by the likes of Virgin Media and BT, as it is seen as an affordable way of expanding domestic Wi-Fi coverage.

However, Juniper Research is concerned that it is not being made clear to customers that their home routers are being used in this way and effectively supporting public Wi-Fi initiatives.

Gareth Owen, author of the study, commented: "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."

He pointed out that in light of current concerns over data security and privacy among the general public, the realisation that complete strangers can access their home routers is "unlikely to be viewed in a positive light".

Juniper Research went on to suggest that if consumers become aware of what is happening, there is a "real possibility of a backlash"

However, it added that the policy does offer direct benefits to consumers, such as free or cheaper access to a broadband operator's homespot network 

A similar approach is already being taken by major TV operators in the US including Cablevision and Comcast, as they also see the homespot model as a way of boosting domestic Wi-Fi coverage in an low-cost way.

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