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Fon news

It’s a big news day for Fon. (Disclosure: I’m on its board of advisors because I favor Fon’s social goal of spreading wifi, particularly in areas that can’t afford it; advisors get some stock options.)

Fon is going to heavily subsidize a million routers: You pay $5 and agree to share your wireless connection for a year. If you don’t, you keep the router and are charged $45. The new routers are smaller and cuter than most I’ve seen. Giving them away is a big financial risk, but Fon has to get over the chicken-egg problem somehow. If it works, people will have a good reason to sign up with Fon and to start sharing wifi. If it doesn’t, Fon will have gone through a lot of the money it raised a few months ago. (Both Google and Skype invested.)

Other news:

You can now be a “Bill,” i.e., someone who shares her Fon connection and receives half of the $3 (or €3) per day charged to those who aren’t Linuses, i.e., people who share their Fon connection in exchange for free roaming. A five-day pass is $10. (Bills get half of the $3 after taxes and payment service charges are subtracted.)

There are a whole bunch of new features, some of which are pretty cool, including the ability to see a travel log of where you’ve been based on the Fon routers you’ve accessed, and the ability to add personal information to the page that others see; you can also allow people to go to a couple of sites of your choice for free. (I still hope Fon includes mesh networking in the routers because of the potentially transformative effect that could have, overlaying local communities with local Web communities. Maybe someday.)

There’s also a South-Parky video of Martin Varsavsky, Fon’s founder, explaining Fon.

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2 Responses to “Fon news”

  1. Hi Dave
    as main italian tech ezine, we have followed FON growth with a lot of entusiasm since the beginning.

    Unfortunately, Italy has a strict law forbidding anyone without a ministerial autorization to provide any kind of access and connectivity.
    We have recently explored the subject and are still trying to get a feedback from FON, ‘cos thousands of italians now foneros really risk legal problems just for being foneros.
    Don’t know if you can help us get the message through to FON.

    Best wishes
    main editor at

    ps. Needless to say that when the law on Wi-Fi was approved lots of experts declared its faults but did not change the mind of the Legislator.

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