6 Dec ’05

Yet another revolution in the way people use wireless, and this one launched with no organized PR – just word of mouth spread mainly through blogs. Proof once again of the enormous appetite we have to connect real-time, all-the-time and everywhere.

is an international network of members who operate or want to use wireless routers to provide (initially) free or (eventually) paid public wireless access under one umbrella organization. They’ve released firmware which so far operates only on Linksys’ open source firmware router, the WRT54G/GS. Thus far they are euro-centric, but the buzz is building. Gist:

In the first phase, FON will be limited to Linus registered users. Being Linus means that you are willing to give your internet access to other members of the FON community. A user registers, installs the software and shares its Access Point. In exchange for that, you can use every Access Point in the FON network for free.

Details here. All of this, of course, is expressly prohibited by the TOS of the Canadian consumer broadband ISP’s. The reaction of ISPs to this phenom will be … interesting.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mathew Ingram December 6, 2005 at 17:42

I guess that’s the big hurdle, apart from the “everyone wanting to be a Linus” problem mentioned by Techdirt. Just about every TOS for every ISP out there (except for Speakeasy) prevents you from doing what FON wants to do.


Rob Hyndman December 6, 2005 at 16:14

Thanks, Mathew.

I saw Om’s post but not techdirt’s. Ouch.

I do agree that for now there is no business in this. But I bet someone is going to figure out centralized security, and then I think it’s an even bet that there could be enough coverage – especially if we see a MIMO router with OS firmware – to make this credible as geek nirvana.

Until the telcos get onto it :)


Mathew Ingram December 6, 2005 at 15:58


I think FON is a great idea, but I have to say I’m skeptical. And I’m not the only one — I don’t know if you saw it, but Om Malik posted something on FON the other day (it’s here) and there are a couple of comments on his piece that are worth reading (which he flags at the top of the piece) including one from Glenn Fleishman of



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