Friday, February 29, 2008

"FON Hopes to Break WiFi Free of Fees"

Interesting little article, but if you ask me it lacks any real information about FON. (I picked through and quoted the main points, overall the article says a whole lot of nothing and would also like to know where this information came from.)

"AT&T recently announced it would give free WiFi access to many Starbucks customers at the coffee stores. But efforts to blanket whole cities have stumbled as costs and technical challenges overwhelm municipal governments and their partners. A crushing blow came when EarthLink said it was abandoning plans to spread a wireless network across a number of metropolitan areas."

"FON has the backing of Google, Skype, and other investors that envision a free, worldwide wireless network that can compete with cellphone companies and other providers. FON has had greater success overseas, getting 80 percent coverage or better in cities like Tokyo, Berlin, and Leipzig, Germany."

"FON, for example, recently decided to target the Castro district in San Francisco. The effort mirrors one in a predominantly gay neighborhood in Madrid, Rees says. "We've found gay neighborhoods have a strong sense of community and a high adoption of technology.""

"FON execs say they welcome the expanded access to WiFi, although many FON routers in this country were aimed at Starbucks stores. Those routers would typically charge for access at a rate cheaper than what Starbucks offered, with the hotspot owner sharing revenue with FON. Those FON participants who charge for access, sharing revenue with the network, are a minority. Most of the router owners offer free access. FON hopes to eventually make money from advertising on those routers."

"Here, it's been lucky to get the explicit blessing of Time Warner that its cable modem customers could share their access. Sharing broadband is expressly forbidden in many end-user contracts. FON's Rees says no Internet service provider has yet complained about customers sharing access, but FON wants more explicit support from other U.S. broadband companies."

"Communities might encourage a patchwork of smaller networks as efforts falter to build giant, citywide WiFi systems. Rees argues that a patchwork is more sustainable in the long run. But that also suggests a long, laborious process that will keep most WiFi in chains for a while."

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