Fon generated tremendous interest in Japan. We are now looking for an energetic fonero to manage our Japanese operations. What do you need to be a leader in the Fon movement? First of all you have to LOVE the internet, be very familiar with it. Secondly you need experience in communications over the internet. Fon is spread mainly through routers. Fon´s objective now is to place as many routers as possible in Japan. We are going to manufacture our own routers and we will be able to introduce them in Japan at 2500 yen, considering all the special web 2.0 features that these routers will have they should sell very well over there and help spread the Fon movement. The candidate will report to Joichi Ito.
Last month I offered some free routers to foneros who sent us pictures showing us they lived on busy streets.
Here´s a list of the names and countries of the winners and their photos.
I decided to extend this promotion. So if you live anywhere in the European Union where you face a busy street and would like to become a fonero, send FON an e-mail with the view from your window (we will publish the best pictures) and your address and Fon will likely ship you a free wifi router. The offer is valid for the first 100 request and you can send your picture until 12th.
Lately at Fon we have been thinking of how to spread the Movimiento Fon inside the web sites of Skype, Google, eBay, Microsoft and Yahoo. Google, eBay, and Skype are our partners and Yahoo and Microsoft are not but Microsoft and Yahoo sell advertising and we could think of advertising. In partner sites Fon does not need to appear as advertising, it can appear as a recommendation in a sign up process for example. When they ask what type of internet connection you have they could say, do you have WiFi? Would you like to share it? Or for example we now appear at OpenBC the most productive business community web site in the world in their downloads. At Fon we have never advertised so far and we already have over 33,000 foneros. We are now the largest WiFi community in the world but we have been so far only present at Fon and at OpenBC. Even T Mobile only has 21,000 hotspots. But now that we are so big we also realize how small everyone is in the WiFi world. We are going to need a million foneros around the world to be a reliable service. With a million foneros we will begin to have a WiFi network that will rival the 3G networks in coverage and will beat 3G in throughput. Plus it will be free to all the wifi donors and affordable, say $2 per 24 hours to those who don´t donate. Still we must find clever way to collaborate both with our partners at Skype, eBay and Google to promote the movimiento and mabe advertise in big web sites. We are also thinking of Technorati, the main reason here is not scientific, is that we love Technorati at Fon and overall the blogging community has been very supportive of our movimiento.
50m? 100m? 200m? How about 279km!!!
These days when you Googled you saw symbols showing that Google was promoting solar and wind energy. Personally as an investor in both I support that move. But when I saw the icons I remembered a dinner with Larry Page at the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC last September when I asked him what he thought was the limits to growth of Google and much to my surprise he did not say servers, or people, but he said electricity. It turns out that Google is by now the largest owner of computers in the world and that computers are consuming more and more of the electricity that is used in the world. Therefore Google has the largest utility bill in the planet. And Larry is concerned about this. And not because of the bill itself but because he truly cares about the polluting effect of Google (do no evil). We tend to think of the internet as a very clean industry. It´s hard to imagine eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google as being responsible for global warming but partly they are, they are hardly carbon neutral and in a small way, nor is Fon. What can we do about this? In the case of Google I wonder if there is a different way of searching that could save a lot of energy. One idea is that if all sites pinged Google a la Technorati, instead of Google crawling them that would save a lot of MWs!
Among other things at Fon I have been in charge of our marketing since we started. Our marketing so far has been pretty unique, not a cent spent in advertising, almost no PR, designers send us stuff and if we like it we pay and use it, we also have an in house designer. But now that we have become the largest WiFi community in the world and have presence in China, Korea, Japan, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Israel, France, and other countries I wonder if it´s not time that we hired a marketing manager based in Madrid. Qualities? Experience managing a web site of over 300K unique visitors per month would be important. Knowing about how to promote stuff on the net would be essential. And of course, most important, to love the internet and want to see it everywhere. Are you the person? Pls write to email@example.com. You could be from anywhere, that we don´t care. But you must have left one big footprint somewhere on the net.
But as far as I know it is the best. Why? How would you like a 1GB service for 89 euros per month? If I could sign up for that service in Madrid I would in a second. Labs2 is the only ISP who I know for which the WiFi signal at 54 megas is the bottleneck! And now Labs2 is a fonero ISP, we are partnering with them in Sweden.
At Fon we are very, very happy to announce that we have teamed up with Neuf Cegetel, a gigantic French ISP with over 1.2 million true broadband customers. After careful study of the French market and talking to different players there Fon chose to team up with Neuf Cegetel for one simple reason. They are a marketing powerhouse. They have a great broadband product and they sell the hell out of it! Now what´s revolutionary about this? That in France, as opposed to the United States for example broadband services come with WiFi and they come with a box that is owned by the operator in which the operator can include new features. So Neuf can increase the bandwidth to customers and can flash the Fon software centrally to them so they all become Neuf/Fon hotspots and enjoy free WiFi roaming. Now if you can choose an ISP in which you pay for bandwidth at home and get bandwidth at home or you can choose Neuf and you pay for bandwidth at home and you roam the world for free which ISP will you choose? And thanks to Neuf being so advanced, Fon France does not need to have people flash their own routers or buy the Fon routers, Neuf simply sends the firmware overnight to the Neuf boxes and these boxes start operating as hotspots so all the Neuf customers can then roam France for free. Soon Neuf will offer wifi phones for example and Neuf customers will be able to call for free in most urban centers of France where there´s Neuf/Fon signal. Moreover as Fon is Open Source, Fon and Neuf invite all the creative French companies to put their contents in WiFi offerings, WiFi radios, WiFi TV stations are but a few of the ideas. Others include WiFi games, and auto connect for Nintendo DS, Playstations, and other cool WiFi devices. If you have any ideas for original WiFi offerings do write to me over this blog.
Today I met Phillip Alvelda from MobiTV. I was very impressed by him and his company. The concept is simple, watch TV over WiFi in your laptop or PDA or TV over 3G in your mobile phone. Other companies also do this, example JumpTV who I already blogged about and is more focused on immigrant populations. But what impressed me about MobiTV is how well they seem to be executing their strategy. They have over a million paying customers mostly in the States now watching TV in mobile devices. MobiTV, JumpTV are killer applications for Fon. While personally I am not a big TV watcher the idea of having high definition TV over WiFi sounds very fonera to me. I can see why a lot of people would want to join Fon to watch TV everywhere of a much better quality than through GPRS/3G networks. With WiFi TV quality is as good as with real TV. I think we will soon see WiFi TVs being offered in the marketplace linked to services like this, something like the Music Gremlins but for TV. And these TVs could be like Mobile TIVOs, or in some cases mobile Sling Boxes. Fon will soon start promoting killer apps in our sign up pages so people can see the real benefits of having WiFi everywhere.
Most Europeans are born in Europe, of course. I am a European born elsewhere. I was born in Argentina, but when I came to Europe I had lived 18 years in the United States and had already acquired my US Citizenship. After a few years of being in Spain I learned that if I wanted to be a Spaniard I had to give up my US Citizenship and I did so. I became a Spaniard because while it was sad for me to give up my US Citizenship, I found Spain specifically and Europe in general a better place to live, raise a family and practice my skills as an entrepreneur than the United States. I have been in Europe for 11 years. During that time I built five telecom and internet companies, Viatel in the UK, Jazztel and Ya.com in Spain, Einsteinet in Germany and now Fon based in Spain but active around the world. Overall these companies have generated around 2000 jobs and invested over 1.5 billion euros in infrastructure. Some with better results than others but all contributing to the economy. So while being an immigrant in Europe I am a different kind of immigrant. I have not come here seeking employment. I have come here and created employment. I also did in the United States where I started two companies. Having lived through the experience of being an immigrant both in the United States and in Europe I would like to make some comments on what are the key issues that Europe needs to address for a better assimilation of immigrants.