Still on a wonderful family vacation in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay I find out that Meraki has raised 20 million dollars to build a WiFi network with a Fon like system in San Francisco.  Meraki is imitating the Fon model with a twist and that is adding a repeater or meshing function that came out of MIT for its wifi stations.  At Fon we also have had a meshing function for a while but we see difficulty in extending meshing in developed countries (meshing is good where availability of connections is low).  Meshing is opposed by our partners, the telcos because one person buys a connection and many use it for free while at Fon the principle is that if you pay for your connection and donate you roam the world for free, but not that you do that if you don´t donate.  Fon is in any case very active in San Francisco and we have many Fonspots everywhere and what makes sense to me is that Fon and Meraki find a way to roam and collaborate.

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steven on January 6, 2008  · 

Now about meshing. The Linksys FON had indeed “wds” which you could call some kind of meshing…
but this allowed the OWNER of the internet line to buy several foneras and link them to each other to create one giant wifi fon zone around his house… connecting one to the internet adsl/cable modem; and the others in power outlets..installing one in the garden shed, one in the attic, one in his mailbox at the streetlevel…
why would a telco be upset that someone installs more than 1 fonera in his house without the need to have additional cabling…. hence FON decided not to support Power Over ethernet so 2 cables were necessary… also FON decided no LAN was necesarry so a “star” network of cables were necessary (a 5 port, 8port, 16port,24port switch next to their adsl/cable router) (with a max of 100m between the switch & fonera device)

in meshing you would have 2 types of foneras… those with a “gateway” function; eg they provide an internet uplink; and those with a “repeater” function; you could decide that those with a working “gateway” fonera would be a Linus/Bill; and those with only “repeater” fonera would remain “aliens”… their only + is that they are able to get “internet” at minimal 2euro/day without the need to get a voiceline, adsl line, installation/setup costs … This seems indeed only a “Win/lose” situation for telco’s that are still fighting to get the last human on earth to connect to the internet using “free wifi, budget light subscriptions, free installation” promotions.

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steven on January 6, 2008  · 

at I have a nice look on the “activity” in San Francisco …40665 users are currently connected and transferring over 10 terabyte of data.
I compare this with (filtered on active foneras)…I think Meraki is winning?

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Nkieto on January 7, 2008  · 

“Meraki is imitating the Fon model…”

Come on Martin, Meraki meshing model was created before Fon was born

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Kyros on January 7, 2008  · 

Hi Martin,

With meshing you definately distribute the internet connection to people who didn’t use this before in this intensity.
So you get them more and more used to surf and so after a while they will need an own internet connection because the mesh will not bring them the needed performance anymore after a while.
This is why I think the meshing will not cut the business for the ISP – in the oposit it will more and more distribute the usage of the web and the need to be connected to it.

I think FON should implement the big ready to use list of features including meshing which are aleady developed for free by it’s international community in Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Belgium, France and so on.
Martin, don’t miss this opportuinity. With this you don’t have to defend – you can seriousely compete against Meraki.
The users will choose FON if the will have the same possibilities because FON is the bigger net with worldwide more offered hotspots.
Then it will be just a matter of time until San Francisco will turn back, too and finally join FON.

Regards, Kyros

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Bluetouff on January 7, 2008  · 

In my opinion, the features are not the only important point.

– Mesh is not only a user feature but a real business model that could permit FON to make money with small / medium or big cities deployment : FON could become a mobile voip local provider. Meraki built a portal that is more flexible than FON, I mean a portal that can monitor a huge network made of hundreds Meraki mini… like a medium city. It’s going be hard for FON to sell a city network.

– FON is a community, with simple user, power users, developers … the first thing that attracted some of us was the open source way to do : use linux, make linux better, give back to the community and the community will do the rest to make FON the wireless Google. It seems quite simple but fonera+ gave the community a closed box and a firmware source code to run in an emulator… no more features improvement, means that the Fonera is already an old fashion access point. I really feel disappointed about that.

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steven on January 8, 2008  · 

Luckily there is Robin which can be installed on a fonera and opening up the wifi…
one fonera to my cable modem; one fonera connected to my fixed pc…and one fonera in the attic which has a nice onobstructed view arround the house… all branched not by a switch/hub but wirelessly…meshed…

there is no Telco telling me a have to use a hub&switch arround the house…
and if people want to use my mesh? then they are aliens… and should get their paypal account ready!
There is even a wysiwyg captive portal

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Antoin O Lachtnain on January 8, 2008  · 

steven, that’s not 40665 users currently connected from what I can see. It’s 40,665 users *ever^ connected and 10 terabytes *ever* transferred. Not that those are bad numbers. Well done to meraki.

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Whakatachutu on January 10, 2008  · 

This looks like an interesting concept but if the aim of the project is to provide free internet access to people, who is initially paying for the internet service? And if it’s goal is to make the internet free, where is the incentive to contribute in the first place. Is this a communist model for internet access?

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Martin Varsavsky on January 10, 2008  · 


I just heard from our head of biz dev in the States, who met with her counterpart at Meraki, that the Meraki biz model is actually different from ours. Their model is to sell hardware. They want to do San Fran as a loss leader to prove the concept that it is possible to provide WiFi into a city by combining access points with internet with access points that are meshed.

At Fon we believe that Meraki is right in the sense that it is possible, but we see the Meraki model better for the less developed world than for the developed world, as in the developed world on any apartment building it is rare to find somebody without broadband these days.

coolmoov on January 11, 2008  · 


Convert your Fon Spot into a Fon Zone with La Fonraki and make it easier for all Foneros to get Wi-Fi everywhere they go.
Why not combine the best of both world in the WiFi space: Fon + Meraki = La Fonraki.
Fon let you be part of the largest WiFi community on the world. Meraki le you expand your Fon Spot. Mark, Isn’t that what La Fontenna for? Instead of using La Fontenna that has limited range, you use Meraki. So think about it, you can use the Meraki outdoor gateway connected on your Fon Spot access point, through the LAN port using an Ethernet cable. So this is almost the same as La Fontenna, except using an ethernet cable and not an antenna cable. The range of the Fon Spot is doubled because both the Fon Spot access point and the Meraki gateway transmit Wi-Fi signals. Now this is where it gets exciting. You then add Meraki repeaters that create a mesh network back to the Meraki Gateway linked to the Fon Spot access point. Here you got a Fon Zone using La Fonraki. You can authenticate users and charge for or give free access to the expanded network. The Meraki network SSID is set to FON_MESH. So depending on how far users are they can connect to FON_AP the standard Fon Spot SSID or FON_MESH the Fon Zone using Meraki.

More alien will access more Fon Spots, then Bills will make more money, Fon will make more money, Linus and Bills will be able to be in reach of more Fon Spots for free. What do you think Mark?

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Miles Graves on November 12, 2008  · 


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