Gorka sent us this very cool video clip he made last week for the FON launch in Spain. Download it here.

Now that we’re planning our launch in the US, i realised that our political activism to create a WiFi nation isn’t that original in this country. Andrew Rasiej, a politician from New York, has his whole campaign based on the idea of creating a WiFi New York. The difference between FON and his campaign agenda isn’t the objective, but rather, the method. Mr. Rasiej WiFi approach requires a multi-million dollar investment in WiFi network infrastructure. The FON approach aims at citizen collaboration whereby citizens are asked to download this free software, install it on their router and place their newly converted FON access points on their window sill. The other obvious difference is the fact that Mr. Rasiej is a politican and I am an entrepreneur. But if there is one thing we have in common, it is our dream to see a mobile internet for everyone become a reality.

Before starting FON, I would google my last name and get 80,000 answers. 45 years of life and six companies and two foundations got me to that level of internet notoriety. But in less than 45 days subsequent to starting FON, I went up to 300,000 replies, an impossible number to read (I google my last name and not FON because FON as a term gives many answers that are not related to our company, as it is also a language in Africa). Because FON is a start up and I am interested in knowing what people say about us I would like to have a tool that allows us to POLL what people are saying about FON. The aim of FON is that people download our software and become members of a global, people´s built wifi network. We need people to want to download FON. If somebody, for example, was against FON, fortunately or unfortunately the Google algorithms would bury this potentially valid criticism to the end of so many citations that we would probably not find it and try to correct it. I wonder if somebody has developed tools to POLL Google. For example a tool that gets all the Google answers, then gives them a random order and then looks for positive or negative sounding words. Also this tool would have to work in Spanish, as over half of the citations are in this language. If nobody has done this I do see an opportunity for programs that randomly analyze search engine results as an opportunity to offer automated competition to Gallup and other polling organizations.

We have been contacted by different ISPs around the world, many coming through our Fonero leaders in different countries. We are making our first deals with Glocalnet in Sweden and Jazztel (which I founded) in Spain to be FON ready. These two companies combined sell over 3000 new dsl wifi connections per day, which means many new FON hotspots per day launched. We are also beginning negotations in the USA and France.

Our strategy vis a vis ISPs is simple. FON will provide our software free of charge to all the ISPs who would like to sell their services FON ready. Why would ISPs want to do this? For two reasons. The first one is that while before you are FON ready your offer is something like “a ton of bandwidth for very little money”, after you are FON ready your offer is “pay for bandwidth at home and roam the world for free with FON” (Linus) or “milk your wifi” (Bill). For the consumer is the same 20/30 euros/dollars per month but the offer is radically improved at 0 extra cost to you, the ISP. Now the OTHER very important reason for ISPs to sell their dsl/cable/wifi routers FON ready is that FON shares revenues made from ALIENS (users of FON hotspots) with the ISPs so you can turn all your customers into additional revenue sources for you, the ISP. And of course the time has come to forget about all the business plans to build a hotspot network. The largest hotspot networks in the world have less than 20,000 hotspots. With the sales of Jazztel and Glocalnet and a few other ISPs plus the spontaneous downloads that started this week at our site, we can have more FON hotspots in a few months than T Mobile, Boingo, The Cloud, etc.

FON and its ISP partners will be magnets for wififons applications, for Nintendo, Sony wifi devices, digital cameras with wifi, mp3 players with wifi, etc. It´s time to build the global mobile internet. First with wifi and later, when available, with wifi/wimax routers at people´s homes. If you are an ISP we can get you started in a week. Please contact me at martin@fon.com to get an information package.

At FON we are using the tactics of democracy in business. We are, for example, planning to run city wide elections among foneros to select our city managers instead of going to headhunters to find us the right person. Also at FON, at least so far, we don´t advertise and we don´t have a PR firm. As in the world of politics, at FON we speak, or in our case, we blog.

Now, as I look further into the political process of well functioning democracies (yes, they do exist!) I am surprised by one finding. Democratic politics seem to produce more competitive behaviour than business practices. Take, for example, the case of mobile phone pricing in Europe and the obvious collusion that exists among the three to four leading operators in each country on fixed to mobile rates and on roaming rates. At the same time, compare this monopolistic behavior, so prevalent among three to four players per country, to the tremendous competition that exists on almost every issue between Labor and Conservatives in the UK or between Partido Popular and PSOE (the socialists) in Spain.

Why is it that two political parties can behave more competitively than three to four mobile phone companies? The answer, in my view, lies in the different types of monopolies that politics and business creates. Democratic politics is in a way a quasi monopoly on government…that is temporary. Therefore you either win and have almost all the power (Aznar before the last election in Spain) or lose and have practically no power (Aznar now). In this type of scenario, competition for obtaining the monopoly right to power is fierce. But when companies can do well colluding, each one making huge profits and dividing the market, the number of players is less likely to have an impact on monopolistic behavior. As a result, we have an incredibly non competitive per minute pricing in the mobile phone world in Europe. And this is but one example in which corporate behavior leads to monopolistic practices. There are many others.

I don´t get it. I speak Italian. I love Italy. But so far, we have requests for FON from all the important countries in the world except Italy. Since FON has been disseminating over the blogosphere I wonder if Italy is somehow disconnected from the blogosphere in other languages. How can we get so much interest in Germany, Sweden, Netherlands and France and not in Italy?

www.fon.com has gone live but is in Spanish. Sorry. It will soon be in English. Now if you know some Spanish you can already sign up for FON and download the software. It´s free. And there´s a link in the home page in Spanish to FON´s English blog.

Tomorrow we will release the FON software. With this software download and a Linux enabled access point, anybody can turn their wifi access point into a hotspot and choose to either charge (the BILL mode) or share (the LINUS mode). Now reading about municipal wifi networks I wonder. After we release the FON software, should cities continue spending money to build wifi networks? Aren´t wifi networks already built by private individuals, but because of a lack of a unifying software such as FON´s, they are now unavailable? Wouldn´t taxpayers prefer to donate part of their bandwidth at home in exchange for bandwidth elsewhere rather than pay for municipal infrastructure? I think so.

The FON model works!!! Our strategy to make FON expand quickly throughout Europe and enable people who share their bandwidth to connect their wireless devices everywhere for free is picking up steam.

One aspect of this strategy is to blog the idea, so when the software is online next week in “Linus version”, Linuses can download the software and start sharing their bandwidth between eachother. We already have 1500 subscribed users for next week’s launch. The other aspect is to start making deals with ADSL operators. Like I said before, we’re close to an agreement with Jazztel.

In Sweden, I made two oral agreements that we hope to sign in less than a month with Glocalnet and Labs2. Telia is the Telefonica of Sweden and Glocalnet is Telia’s largest ADSL competitor while Labs2 is Telia’s largest competitor in fiber-optic access. These two companies together sell around 8500 bandwidth connections a month. The deal with them is incredibly simple: we give Glocalnet and Labs2 the exclusive right to sell ADSL and fiber optic access with FON Inside and they agree that all their WiFi sales have FON Inside.

The great thing about this is that nobody pays anyone. These companies like FON because they will tell their clients “With Telia, you pay 30 euros a month and have internet at home. With Glocalnet, you pay 30 euros a month and you have internet at home, and you can also have it at your neighbour’s house, in your city and in the whole of Europe.”

In Argentina, Microsoft is pronounced the english way, whereas in Spain, it’s pronounced MEE-CROSOFT. Spain is a little bit like France in that it tends to reject “imported” words or names. People will look at you awkwardly if you pronounce a foreign word the way it is supposed to sound. However, in Latin America and most countries in the world, foreign words seem to be much more accepted and people will try to pronounce it correctly. In this respect,we decided at FON that a person using FON will be a fonero, wherever that person’s from and whatever language that person speaks. I think for most people, there’s something romantic about Spanish, and FON members will like the name fonero. In fact, people are starting to pick it up. Just the other night, at the big SIME party, lots of Swedes came up to me and told me “I want to be a fonero!”. That made my day.

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