FON has been very successful in Japan. We launched only 14 months ago and have already the largest WiFi network in Japan with more than 31,000 FON Spots. The Japanese people are very civic minded and understand and love the concept of WiFi everywhere, free for donors and extremely affordable for everyone else. Japan is one of the most modern societies in the world and for the Japanese having WiFi everywhere is extremely useful as more and more gadgets now, including many made by large Japanese firms such as Nintendo and Sony, are WiFi enabled.

Now one of the criticisms that we had received in Japan is that FON was large and growing fast but still not in all the commercial areas where most people work. Well we at Fon listened carefully to this criticism and I am glad today that we have found a solution to this problem by teaming up with the commercial hotspot operation of Livedoor. Livedoor operates a WiFi network of 2,200 Access Points in the centre of Tokyo which in pure numbers adds little to our network but the key with Livedoor is not so much the amount of hotspots they have but how well placed they are. While we have not tested this yet it is likely that the combination of the FON Spots and the Livedoor hotspots that will send out a FON WiFi network that will be freely accessible to all foneros from anywhere in Japan and the world will give over 80% coverage in Tokyo.

Livedoor will FON-enable all their 2,200 APs in Tokyo, giving Foneros full internet access via these APs by using their FON ID and password – just like with any other FON Spot. Access to FON_livedoor will be free for Foneros at least until August 4, 2008. About 100 FON_livedoor APs will be accessible from today, and all 2,200 APs will become FON-enabled by February 11th. Have a look at our FON Maps to get a feel of how vast our joint FON / FON-Livedoor network is in Japan. I am sure that next time you visit Tokyo, you will have no difficulty finding a FON signal. At this point FON’s coverage is the greatest in two key economies in the world, the UK thanks to BTFon and in Japan.

Moreover, to celebrate this new partnership with Livedoor, FON will launch a 60-day “Free Access Campaign”: we’ll offer to all FON members, including Aliens, free access to all FON Spots and FON_livedoor Spots in Japan. We think it is time that all visitors to Japan and Japanese people get an opportunity to test Fon for free. If you live in Japan and you would like to have this free access extend beyond 60 days we recommend that you visit a Tsukumo shop or our own web site and acquire and install a La Fonera for only Y1980. That will be the only expenditure you will ever make with FON as with FON all donors have free WiFi wherever they are in the world.

Update: here is the first coverage from Japanese press

Update: blogs and press from the rest of the world

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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