I love great ideas and FON is really one of them. Founded in the year 2005 by the Argentinean entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky in Madrid (Spain) has as a main objective to create the largest Wifi Network in the world, and gosh, they are doing it! They already have more than 11 million wifi hotspots worldwide.
How they do it?
You have to get a Wireless access point from FON (they called them Foneras) and by connecting it to your own router the Fonera will share a little bit of your Internet connection with the FON network. This way a person that could reach the Fonera range at your house could connect to the internet thanks to you. The concept is really easy, they create a separate network to ensure nobody would have access to your local network, and if you share your internet connection with a FON access point you will be able to use the whole worldwide FON network in exchange.
Martin Varsavsky, founder of FON
In theory you could also just purchase like a pre-paid card to use the network worldwide if you don’t want to share, but I couldn’t find the information on their website.
The company has been making deals with Internet service providers all over the world and this is great because when you receive your provider´s routers you already have this option embedded. But I think the adoption rhythm can be really accelerated.
How to make FON network grow faster
1 – The first thing I´ve been thinking since a while ago, is that FON needs to create a firmware that could be installed on certain standard accessible routers available on multiple countries. The same way the Linksys WRT54G was a pretty standard router everywhere in the world some years ago, there are new ones like the TP-Link models which have decent hardware, flexibility, antennas power and the flexibility to update their internal software. DD-WRT offers this for several brands, allowing you to have even much more specs from your router, maybe a modification of this package to add FON support could be enough? But if not possible by just releasing compatibility with 2 or 3 routers that could be found worldwide will make a difference already. Imagine if you could just upgrade the firmware of your routers and get instant FON support to share a % of your internet connection with the world!
2 – Another idea that came up to my mind is the release of an application that could be installed on MAC and Windows computers that would share a piece of your internet connection so others can use it. Usually desktop´s PCs dont have wifi incorporated and the internal antennas of laptops computers are not powerful enough so others in a reasonable distance could connect through it. But what if you just get a standard USB Wireless antenna/card that would offer a better range. I personally for example don’t shutdown my computer at any time of the day, so I could use this option.
With both these ideas the users around the world that would like to share their internet connection, wouldn’t have to worry about spending more than 50 Euros (with shipping) (USD 66) on a dedicated Fonera and could use their own infrastructure. A USB antenna/card would cost much less than 50 Euros!. I am sure there would be some models on DX.COM and could be shipped for free worldwide!
What do you think about FON? Do you have experience using it? Feel free to share your comments below 😉
Update 8/8/13: I was just taking a shower thinking about all the cities that want to “illuminate” with WiFi signals for the tourists and people living in it. I heard this from several cities in Argentina and also from Zurich here in Switzerland. What if FON as a company can support these deployments with high end routers for the streets of the cities providing the FON network as the access for everybody. If they share their own routers at home, they can use the public spots without any problem 🙂