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Fon partners with Google and Skype, raises major funding

My friend Martin Varsavsky has announced a major partnership and EUR 18m fundraising deal for FON that will change the way we think about mobile computing. That’s a dramatic thing to say, and it’s been said before, but this time it really is true.

FON will basically mean that any Internet user who wants it can have mobile access wherever they want it, wherever there is broadband access available locally. They will be confident that they can get the access at a reasonable price, or for ‘Linus’ participants, for free. (A Linus is any user who shares his/her WiFi in exchange for free access throughout the Community wherever there is coverage.)

Google and Skype are on-board as partners and Index (the VC behind Skype) and Sequoia (the VC behind Google). The founders of Skype are also to join the board.

FON is now positioned to grow rapidly. It has the money it needs. More importantly, it has partnerships with the most credible names on the Internet. I’m proud to have been involved in a small way with getting this movement up-and-running as chief fonero for Ireland and as an informal adviser.

But most important of all, FON is beginning to get widespread support from the community — ordinary Internet users. The support of the community is critical. I am confident that FON will get the support of the community through, because by providing inexpensive and free Internet access, it is providing a valuable service to the community.

Of course, this is only the beginning of the game. Now the real work begins. I think the most important work will be to build partnerships. Partnership with router manufacturers, ISPs, premises owners and ordinary users are all important.

Already, we have a couple of hotspots in place in Dublin. There’s one near the Morrison Hotel; another on Grand Canal St. Lr. and another on O’Connell St near the Spire.

There is a big opportunity for ISPs to use FON to extend their reach and make their product more useful and more valuable. We have had discussions with a number of Irish ISPs and telcos, and we are confident that we will be able to launch in Ireland with strong partners.

Other FON advisers, including Dan Gillmor, Ethan Zuckerman, Wendy Seltzer, David Weinberger, David Isenberg and Joi Ito have also mentioned FON on their blogs. Rebecca McKinnon covers the issue well and explains more about what FON is about.

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  1. what a great idea! Here’s hoping this really takes off here in Ireland too!