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FON: getting going fast

I’m posting this while logged on from the FON access point in Ireland, at Ormonde Quay in Dublin. FON is a scheme for sharing wi-fi on an international scale. Bernie wrote about the launch on Wednesday. The premise of FON is simple: pay for broadband at home, have bandwidth everywhere. We’ve established the first FON spot in Dublin, at a central location. We;’re still testing to make sure everything is working, but it’s all looking good. Martin Varsavsky has asked me to be ‘chief fonero’ for Ireland. We’d love to get more people on-line before the official launch of FON in the Emerald Isle. If someone can point us at a good supplier for WRT 54G APs, that would be helpful too!

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  1. Hi Antoin,
    Some questions:

    -Why should I use FON and not download OpenWRT (which is actually what they use) directly on my access point from the Internet?

    -How do you differentiate FON from movements like

    -Who will pay for the Internet connection? And for the necessary equipment to setup de FON hotspot?

    -Is it not illegal to resell Internet connections without a license?

    -How will you compete with existing WiMAX networks?

    This is just to start with. Sorry if it´s too long but I have a lot of doubts, otherwise I find the idea pretty good, although not new at all.


  2. Good questions.

    Yes, you could use OpenWRT and leave it completely open (which I think it is a great idea). You can even download the GPL’d FON software and hack it if you want, providing you don’t violate the trademarks.

    The problem with ‘going it alone’ like this is that there is no registration at all, and there is no benefit to you as the person who is providing the hotspot. As a result, there is little incentive to drive ADSL users to share their broadband as you describe. With FON, the availability of free access when you are away from home is a good reason to deal with the system.

    I don’t read German well, but Freifunk is based around meshing technology as I understand it. There are obviously similarities. I don’t really know enough about it, but I would see FON and as possibly being complementary, not competitive.

    You pay for your own Internet connection and the equipment. The benefit is that you get access to a network of wi-fi points for free, that you’d otherwise have to pay for. The extra cost is very small compared to the ongoing cost of a DSL line.

    There is a complicated literature around your point around licences. Basically, you don’t need a licence to deal in telecomms services.

    FON is a system for sharing hotspots. It is designed to give you access to broadband when you’re away from your home base.

    FON is not meant to compete with WiMAX, which is designed to provide longer-haul services. It’s not about providing long-haul or last-mile. It’s definitely not about competing with existing telecomms providers.

    It’s good to hear your comments. Let me know what you think.

  3. Hello Antoin,
    I’ve passed on Bernie’s and your comments about Fon to a friend in Bray. He’s not ultra-tech… basically a reasonably proficient keyboard and sampling composer (formerly of Dublin) and yet with a laptop could benefit when he’s at symposia in Germany, Netherlands, Spain or U.S. (Or could he, in the U.S? Does Fon get over to Canada and U.S. as yet?)
    Michael B.