Our plan at FON is first to start a movement to expand coverage and then, in a second phase, to launch FON applications, starting with WiFi phones (WiFiFONS) with VOIP rates and no line costs for Linuses. However, if you’re one of those Linus pioneers that just can’t wait, I recommend you try PeopleCall’s WiFi telephone service. I tried it today and it works really well. For now, it will work in your house and where you catch a WiFi signal, but with FON you’ll be able to use it in many more places and PeopleCall’s WiFi phones will be compatible with FON.
I’ll also take this opportunity to thank Herme Garcia, who’s been advising me on how to use WiFiFONS. I’m proposing a plan to him whereby calls between WiFiFONS and PeopleCall would be free. My idea is that – contrary to Vodafone, Movistar or Amena, who set ridiculously high rates for inter-operator calls, that are in the end borne by the client- calls between new VOIP operators wouldn’t be charged.
I received an email from a Bill today who told me he didn’t want to let any Linuses surf the internet through his access point (AP). I asked him to look at the problem from a “probability” perspective and told him the following:
In one year alone, around one million WiFi enabled devices were sold in Spain, mostly laptops with Centrino chips. In addition, every year there are as many tourists who come to Spain as there are inhabitants, and most of those 40 million tourists come from countries where there are many more WiFi devices per capita than in Spain. So from this perspective, it might be better for you to focus more on potential clients rather than on Linuses. Indeed, as soon as you connect your AP to the FON network, you’ll have 5000 Linuses who can theoretically surf the internet for free using your connection. But this is peanuts compared to the 5 million users who will be able to pay you for using your AP. Another point to bear in mind is that Linuses have WiFi at home and share their WiFi for free but if they do use your connection, it is temporary, they will not be leeches and stay put. Remember, a Linus has WiFi in his/her house, an Alien doesn’t. A FON member chooses to be a Linus because she/he wants or is willing to share WiFi to be able to roam for free and help create a WiFi nation. And don’t worry about the Linus who will try to clone him/herself, because a Linus can have as many passwords as he wants inside his house but can only have one outside. So again, if a Linus connects to your AP, remember that it’s temporary and occasional. And one last important point: your AP is also a port of entry for Aliens to use the FON network, not just to use your AP. Through your AP, say an Alien buys 24 hours of access on FON. Well you pocket 50% of what he or she paid. And now, say you want to roam a bit, well you can sell yourself FON access through your own AP and it will cost you 50% less than what an Alien would pay (because you pocket 50% of what you paid!). In other words, as a Bill, you will be able to charge users while at the same time roam at half price.
In the end, Bills and Linus will be best of friends. Bills will like Linuses because they help increase network coverage and thus make FON more attractive to Aliens. Linuses will love Bills because they can use their APs for free!
I was thinking this morning why it was that Swisscom, Telefonica and T-Online, who have tried to set up their own WiFi networks, failed in their endeavour and why I think FON will be successful at it.
The best explanation I came up with is that chaos is sometimes better than order. Let me explain: a telecom engineer would never plan the kind of network FON is going to have. When you see that thousands of volunteers who have signed up and sent us their email addresses, objectively, the FON network can be seen as chaotic and random.
An engineer who designs networks for a telecom wants the best possible coverage with the smallest number of access points and won’t even try to aim for coverage where there is no market. At FON, however, we are putting in motion a movement in which access points that already exist all sync together and form a same network. Telecoms as we know them work like governments and we work like civil society. What is our advantage? The same advantage the market has over planning. Juantomás García puts it this way: “Imagine you had to plan the distribution of all the food that enters Manhattan in one day. Not even the most efficient government could plan the distribution of the amazing variety of Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French, Jewish, Latino, Oriental and North American food that is eaten every day in the Big Apple. Millions of individuals taking individual decisions are the ones who make it happen.”. This is why, with extremely basic marketing (basically, this blog and other blogs), without any internet infrastructure and with very simple but very clever software, FON will be able to build what billions of dollars spent by telecoms couldn’t: a WiFi nation.
In Spain, there’s already broadband for everyone, the problem is that it’s very badly distributed. To give and to receive (Linuses) or to share and to charge (Bills) is the solution to this absurd situation. From chaos, we can reach order.
Jorge Gant shared with us a particularly good idea. Apparently, most schools in Spain are connected to the internet but very few use WiFi. Jorge’s idea is that parents, professors and students who are FON members should install FON access point in schools. By placing access points near windows, professors and students can use their laptops in and around their school. This way, not only can schools save a lot money on cabling and internet access, but the Internet, as a learning tool, becomes accessible in every classroom.
Many “Bill” FON members are asking us how we will pay Bills. The idea is to use a system very similar to the one currently used by Google with AdSense.
AdSense is an advertising system in which webmasters cede space on their web pages to Google, which Google uses to advertise using hyperlinks. If you’re a regular internet surfer, you must have seen hundreds of pages using this system. Google sells the advertising and then gives a percentage to the webmaster. Advertisers contact Google and pay Google to post their ads.
So in terms of how FON pays Bills: FON is like Google, Bills are like the webmasters and Aliens are like the advertisers.
If you are a Bill, all you will have to do is convert your access point into a FON access point, agree to the terms of the contract and begin earning money. The whole process will be online and will take about 5 minutes. If you’re already a webmaster using Google ads, then, you already have an idea of how Bills will get paid by FON.
I’m happy to announce that the FON blog is officially up and running. In this blog, FON members will be able to publish and share their thoughts. For those who want to publish something instantly, you can write whatever you want in the “Comments” section. If you want to publish a blog post, send your article to Mayte at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mayte will publish as many articles as she can. The FON team will also be publishing stuff so we can all share new ideas and keep the conversation going.
Although it’s only been three weeks since FON has been open to the public and less than two months since I came up with the idea (Sep 5 to be exact), with this blog, I really feel FON has a life of its own now.
People have been wondering who is behind FON’s software and systems development. Well, I’d like to introduce our outsourcing company, Kynetia, one of those Spanish companies that are doing so well around the world thanks to their creativity, know-how and incredibly talented staff.
Kynetia, led by Jorge Pascual, is working on the FON download (that will be ready for the SIMO fair in Madrid on November 15) as well as on the FON systems (that, as I’ve already mentioned earlier, will be operational for Linuses first). Speaking of which, who could have thought of a better newcomer to the FON movement than Juantomas Garcia – president of Hispalinux. Today, we had a long meeting with Juantomas, who is not only a brilliant individual but is someone brimming with great ideas. He knows a lot about security and he’s making sure that FON will be as secure as possible.
I’ll also use this opportunity to welcome Teófilo, who will join the FON crew next week. Teofilo wrote me not too long ago and I was very impressed by his presentation, and more particularly, by his blog. Nowadays, your blog is your best CV. We invited him to join us and he’s moving from Sevilla to work with us.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank Fabiana Paredes from Romero Victorica, Argentina, who is behind FON’s corporate image. She and her team, who are thousands of kilometers away, are doing an amazing job of capturing and conveying the FON spirit.
Fon is booming. I have requests of people who want to partner with FON from 17 countries so far. In Spain, where we are first launching FON, we have thousands of volunteers waiting for our software to be ready in order to download it, flash it to their access points and link all wifi access points into a country wide network. We have hundreds of volunteers who are also interested in going into the homes of people who are less techie and install FON for them. We are launching FON in Sweden at SIME on November 9th and FON in France at Les Blogs on December 5th.
Now here´s my offer to all top bloggers of the world. Join our board and become our partners. In Spain we are making a board that is made of top Spanish bloggers, like Alvy at Microsiervos. I would like to extend a similar offer to the top bloggers of any country. We are going to create a subsidiary for each country that FON goes into and we would like to offer the top bloggers of that country a seat on the board of the FON and a 1% ownership stake. Please contact me if you are a top blogger and are interested in joining your local board of FON.
We’ve been getting lots of questions from people using cable and not ADSL and I want to reassure everyone that FON works with cable.
Whether you have ADSL or cable, FON is a software that you download onto your PC and from then on configures your WiFi access point. The focus here is the access point that connects to the FON network, not the ADSL or cable connection behind it.
In the WiFi world, you have different types of users. On one hand, we have the Bills, who yearn to buy their Linksys access point and then go out and fish some gringos and charge them. For them, FON will be available around mid-november.
Then,we have the Linuses, who simply want to tell other Linuses where they are so they can connect and roam for free. This is fairly obvious considering that if you stroll the streets of Spain, you will find that between 30% and 70% of WiFi networks are OPEN. FON will be available to Linuses by early November.
Today, the problem is that no one really knows where the Linuses are. And this is what FON aims to solve. How? Well, if you’re a Linus and your WiFi is OPEN, then you can register on our website and tell us where exactly your access point is. Reciprocally, FON will tell you where the other FON access points are and we will share this information only with other Linuses. If your WiFi is password-protected, you can give us the password so we can input it in our database and we will give you roaming through the open WiFi networks of other Linuses. If you want to be a Linus with a password, we can give you one so you can replace your old one.
To be sure, FON will set up access points in important sites where no WiFi coverage currently exists. In this respect, Linus will enjoy free access to the FON network while Bills and Gringos will be charged.
So basically, FON will have two types of access points: those that we will be able to see and monitor from our headquartes (using Linksys access points for now and then other brands later on) and those that we won’t monitor but that we will put in our maps based on the information Linuses send us.