CUSTOMERS with UPC will be able to use smartphones and tablets to hop on to each other's broadband connections in a new initiative to "share the internet".
The company insists that the so-called 'Horizon WiFree' initiative, which is set to be rolled out to 150,000 homes by the summer, would not compromise the security of UPC customers' accounts.
UPC's broadband customers will get the added service for free -- they will have to register on the operator's website and get a secure pin number to use the service.
If they are in the home of another UPC customer, or in the vicinity, they will be able to effectively hop on to their internet connection and access online services.
However, a different channel is used to the main user, so that their internet security is not compromised.
"One of the things we locked down first was the security and quality of enabler-homes' broadband accounts," said UPC's head of consumer products Ronan McEvoy.
"So the channel used to allow other UPC users to access the home's broadband is completely separate and is limited to 2.5 megabits per second."
Mr McEvoy said that the service was only available to other customers of UPC.
He said that around half of UPC customers have the necessary modem to allow others to use their broadband freely, and that those who owned the account could opt out of allowing the service to activate.
"Frankly, we don't expect many to opt out as we think it's a beneficial service," he said.
Mr McEvoy said that the service was typically targeted at people who were visiting friends' homes and who needed to access an internet service but did not want to ask for their host's wifi password.
He said that up to five people could use the service at any one time and that any internet-enabled device would be capable of using the service, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
UPC recently increased its business users' broadband speeds to 250Mbs.
"Our network has the potential to go far beyond the speeds we currently have in place," said Mr McEvoy. "But Horizon WiFree is a way of giving secure broadband access to UPC customers outside their own homes."