Please welcome Diego Cabezudo, whom we’ve hired to be our COO. Diego left Ireland where he worked at O2 to return to his home country and join FON. We’re really excited to have him on board.
Ignacio Escolar, a Spanish journalist wrote a poorly researched article arguing that foneros in Spain could go to jail for two years for downloading our software (links in my Spanish blog). While Spain does have a law that says that people who download content and resell it for profit could be punish with up to a two year prison term, Ignacio Escolar wrongly thought this law, made for the movie industry, could apply to people who share wifi or resell wifi. If this were true, there would be a lot of people in jail at Boingo, T Mobile, Eurospot…
Bills, we owe you, I know. Like we said many times in the past, the WiFi revolution needs both the socialists (the Linuses) and the “free marketeers” (the Bills). For now, perhaps unfairly, only Linuses can use FON. But what I can say to the Bills (who are waiting to set up their router and place their antena where they can catch lots of Aliens ready to pay for a connection) is that we are working very hard to set up a secure system for the Bill option to operate smoothly and safely.
Luckily, we’re not the ones who invented the idea of having a hotspots and charging users of these hotspots. Spain has 1000 charging hotspots and Europe has more than 25,000, so there are systems already tried and tested that we’re adapting. But “For when?” you ask. January 15th seems to be a reasonable date. Today, if you are a Bill you can install the firmware and sign up as a Bill as soon the Bill option is ready.
Now, who should be a Bill? If you own a bar, a restaurant, a hotel, a pharmacy, a laundro-mat, a newspaper kiosk, or if you live in a place where lots of tourists pass by, then you should be a Bill. We’re currently testing directional WiFi antenas that increase your WiFi coverage (perfect for parks!) and we’re also in talks with super Bills. Super Bills are entrepreneurs who want to invest in routers and place them in public places and then share their revenue with FON and the owners of these public places, so that the latter don’t have to buy routers themselves.
…is finally in English!! Now all English speaking foneros can download our software and share wifi with other foneros around the world. FON is free wifi roaming… provided that you agree to share some of your excess bandwidth at home/work. If you are a capitalist fonero, a Bill in our lingo, you will have to wait for another month until you can start milking your wifi. So far we are only functioning in the Linus modality, creating a global pool of shared bandwidth through a simple piece of Linux software. Now this is a BETA. Please report all bugs, typos, and spanglish to email@example.com. And we will soon support brands other than Linksys.
BTW we welcome all wifi access point manufacturers to adapt our software to your access points and release it publicly.
Joi Ichi Ito, one of the world’s most popular bloggers, accepted to join FON’s advisory board for North America. Joi is originally from Japan but grew up in the US. His blog is in english and it’s fascinating. Joi is one of the leading figures of the blog movement both as a blogger and founders of Six Apart. One of the things I really admire in Joi is his ability to start companies that generate social value and are profitable at the same time.
An interesting detail: this blog is designed with the software Joi’s company created: MoveableType. So while Joi becomes a fonero, I blog using his software.
I just heard that a journalist from a Spanish television channel said that FON is the Napster of Wifi. Being a Napster fan, I see the analogy.
With FON, a user pays his/her bandwidth at home and can enjoy bandwidth wherever there are other foneros. With Napster, you pay $10 a month and you can download as much music as you want, regardless of where you are. Since I love music, I really prefer Napster to iTunes. iTunes, with its pay-per-song system, works for people who like listening to the same song over and over again. I prefer the variety that Napster gives me. When you think of it, $10 is really peanuts for the amount of music Napster gives you access to.
When journalists ask me why is it that I am building FON my answer is simple. To enjoy a global wifi roaming network and, if I can, to make money in the process. ¿Why do people join FON? Basically for the same reason. To have wifi roaming and, if they can, to make money in the process.
Now, what is so original about FON? It´s not the idea, hotspots as wifi payphones were invented the minute 802.11 was defined. What´s original about FON is that our software is downloaded from the net into people´s wifi access points thereby turning their own access points into members of a global wifi network. Boingo, The Cloud, Telekom, Swisscom with Eurospot or Telefonica have all built separate wifi networks to sell hotspot services. FON turns every citizen into a hotspot provider. Once they do this, they can either be Bills and charge for their wifi or Linuses and not charge but get free roaming priviledges.
The other day, I wrote about how I had discovered a brilliant North American political activist, Andrew Rasiej, who lost the September elections in New York but who managed to spark a lot interest in his campaign to create a WiFi New York. Well, it just so happens our Fonero leader for North America, Ejovi Nuwere, contacted him and got him interested in FON. So much so that that he’s now considering joining our board for North America.
He basically told Ejovi that he likes the fact that FON is a popular movement and not a big public company, although he rightly notes that we will have to complement FON with a public branch that would be present in public buildings, hospitals and schools.
But the difference between the cost of making New York WiFi and the cost of setting wifi only in public buildings, hospitals and schools is abysmal. The same would also be true in Madrid if one wanted to create a WiFi Madrid.
At FON, we’re studying the possibility of coming out with a WiFiFON with a worldwide flat calling plan. We think that we’ll be able to charge 30€ a month for a WiFiFON that can connect to the FON network and to all open WiFi networks, and be able to call other WiFiFONS as well as all landline numbers in Europe, North America, Argentina, Russia, Taiwan and many many more countries. Stay tuned…
I’d like to introduce to you Ejovi Nuwere, our Fonero leader for North America. Ejovi is one of those IT prodigies. He was a hacker when he was young, but now, at 25, he is the head of his own internet security company and Business Week one of the top 20 most talented entrepreneurs in the US.
I met Ejovi at the March 11 conference and i was really impressed ith his ideas on how to make the internet secure and at the same time, more open. When i started FON, i invited Ejovi to be our North America leader and he accepted. And not only did he accept, but he also shared with me the great news that Andrew Rasiej, the political WiFi activist from New York, had joined FON.