the lid is off the network – FON

by P

There has been a lot of talk about FON, a bottom-up free wifi network to span the (developed) world. They are aiming for an amazing 1 Million hotspots in 4 years. Google and Yahoo have invested, which made everyone take notice. This could have huge implication for telecommunications companies scrambling to keep the lid on open networks.

Good description of how it works, by David Weinberger (who also sits on the board):

The aim is to provide enough incentives, and make it easy enough technically, that thousands of people will start providing Fon hotspots. Bottom up we can have a global network, usable for free by those who choose to share access for free and for an affordable fee by others.

Fon does not want to wait for top-down wifi solutions. Instead, it provides a couple of incentives for people to get a wifi router and begin sharing access.

If you’re a “Linus,” you let any other fonero use your hotspot for free. In addition to savoring the joy of altruism, you’re allowed to use any other fonero’ss hotspot for free, anywhere in the world.

If you’re a “Bill,” you get a cut (I think it’s 50%) of the money foneros pay to use your hotspot. You cannot roam the Fon network for free.

If you’re an “Alien,” you register with Fon (for free) and then can use Fon hotspots wherever you find them for a rate far lower than you’re paying T-Mobile or Starbucks, etc. Fees have not been finalized, but it’s going to be way under the $6/hour typical in the US.

More background on Martin Varsavsky’s (FON’s founder) blog.