You don´t need to understand Japanese to see that La Fonera is the the third best networking product in Amazon Japan. Having Spanish as my native language I just love to see that they still keep the “La” Fonera. Fon is the only technology company from a Spain or any other Spanish speaking country that has managed to have its products sold in Japan. Sorry for the promotional tone of this blog post but if anything it is only inspired by pride in the people who work at Fon and their abilities.

I am glad to announce a FON has just signed an agreement with Comstar, the main telecom operator in Russia, a partnership similar to those we have with BT in the UK and in other countries with other operators.

Comstar and FON will jointly develop a Wi-Fi internet access network in Russia, initially focusing on Comstar’s subscribers in Moscow, who will be able to easily join the FON Community. Comstar plans to establish 30,000 Wi-Fi access points in Moscow in 2008-2009 before expanding to other regions.

Comstar’s users will be able to rent La Fonera routers, connect them to their Internet connection and join the FON network. Like other Foneros, they will be able to roam for free in any place covered by FON, including the Comstar-FON network, using personal login and password details for Comstar’s DSL network. People who are not Foneros (we call them Aliens) will be able to access Comstar-FON’s network using pre-paid cards, SMS or the usual options available on our captive portal.

Russia is particularly interesting for me: three of my grandparents used to speak Russian and during high school I was known as “el ruso”. However I’ve never been to Russia, even though Sistema, Russia’s biggest telecom company, is one of FON’s shareholders. I’ll be there for the Comstar-FON launch party and I’ll let you know my impressions on this country.

I already blogged about the great time I had at Google Zeitgeist this year. Every year GZ gets better and better — hard for Nikesh and his team to top this year´s event– and this was partly thanks to the great Gala dinner on Monday.

While the sessions, speakers and panels during the day where more than stimulating and fun, the gala dinner was just amazingly organised. During dinner artists performed and all of them were incredibly talented: some of which you can see in the video my son Tom recorded. What do all of those artists have in common? YouTube made them famous – some of them have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views on YouTube (Google bought Youtube for $1.65 billion –in shares– in October 2006).

Those are the artists which performed that night:
Beardyman (beatboxer from Brighton – viewed over 2.5million times on YouTube)
Billy Wingrove (UK´s top professional football freestyler – viewed over 7 million times)
Felix Zenger (beatboxer from Finland – viewed over 5 million times)
Flawless Street Dance (urban street dance team – viewed over 40.000 times)
Freestyle Skaters UK (as the name says: freestyle skaters)
Joss Loner (pianist and singer – the 10th most subscribed to German musician on YouTube)
Mehmet Kekec (combines street dancing with spinning balls)
Mia Rose (musician – 3rd largest following of musicians on YouTube of all times)
Nathan “Flutebox” Lee (beatboxing while playing the flute – viewed over 100.000 times)
Secret Wars – Grafitti Artists (a cross between a live art exhibition and a grafitti battle)
Vagabond Crew (breakdance – viewed over 10.000 times)
Yuri Lane (plays the Harmonica while beatboxing – over 13 million views)

I was pleased to find out through my good friend Tariq´s Twitter that after years of recommending to Tariq to open a blog he finally has done so. My insistence was based on our many conversations in which I learned a lot from him. Tariq is a great reviewer of the internet. His first post proves my point. He has 5 recommendations to make Facebook a better social platform and I like them all. Keep them coming!

When Digg, Techcrunch, Gigaom, or others talk about me or Fon, visits to my web site or Fon’s go through the roof. But yesterday the New York Times had me on the cover of the business Sunday Times with a huge pictureand long article and the increased visit effect to our websites was negligible. Same was true when Forbeswrote a great article about myself and Fon. Even though the Sunday New York Times has a circulation of 2.3 million papers and is arguably the best newspaper in the world, the cover article only added 200 additional uniques to this website. Instead when I heard from Michael Dell that he used Ubuntu, I blogged it, my post was picked up by Digg and I got over 50,000 additional unique visitors to my blog!

But while there is a big disconnect between old media and new media and old media does not send visitors to new media, the impact of an old media paper article far exceeds that of an Internet article. Michael Arringtonmay send you a lot of visitors but it is rare that I will go somewhere and people will remember what Techcrunch wrote a year ago. With paper this is not the case. People will cite the Erika Brown’s Forbes article a year later. And yesterday I was getting many emails from long time friends and even a former university professor about the New York Times article and this does not happen to me when blogs who send tons of visitors write about me or Fon.

There really is something about old media that we retain for a long time which is not true of new media and this may explain why people like Tom Friedmanare still not blogging. As a consequence an old media reputation, good or bad, seems to be deeper and longer lasting than the flavor of the month reputation that the Internet builds. When John Markoffwrites paper in hand people listen. They know that Markoff has fact checkers, has done his research and is paid to spend a lot of time on a story. Same was true of Erika Brown whose fact checkers kept calling me for weeks before the Forbes story came out. So while I try to write objectively from my blog and so do other bloggers I don’t think anyone of us has the time or resources yet of a Forbes or a New York Times. Old Media still has more money to pay journalists than new media and it shows. Nor does new media have the undivided attention that readers of magazines or newspapers get. Paper, whether we like it or not, still looks better than screens. So even though I have been an advocate of new media for 12 years and I have never invested in any news that came out in paper, I still think that paper is more credible than pixels.

An old media reputation is still more valuable and lasting than a new media reputation.

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I just read the New York Times article on Fon. It´s well researched, worth reading. What´s great about the article is that it shows what it is to try to build a global wireless network on a day to day basis. In this struggle you meet great partners such as Google, who invested with Fon, or skeptics such as Apple, or telcos who ignore you while others embrace you.


We are proud to announce that the BT FON Community we built with our partner BT is the winner in the Most Innovative Wireless Broadband category at the Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards 2008. Over 210 entries were submitted and just 7 winners were selected in 7 different categories: alongside BT FON, our friends at Fring won the award for Best VoIP Product or Service and the WiMAX Network of Castilla y Leon in Spain won in the Best WIMAX Product or Service category. You can find the list of all the winners on the WBI Award website. The WBI Awards is a global institution that recognizes leadership and the very best in innovation for Wireless Broadband.

Aphrodite my sailboat went from Spain to the Caribbean and now is sailing back from Bermuda to Spain. The crew is a mix of professional and amateur sailors. 3 of them came through my blog.

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