Expansión (the leading business newspaper in Spain), published an online article today (for its subscribers) where they pit me against Luis Lada, of Telefónica Moviles, arguing that he is leading an alliance against FON. Knowing Luis Lada a bit, I really doubt that the Telefónica press machinery is behind this article, bearing in mind that pitting FON against giants like Telefónica, flanked by Telecom Italia and Portugal Telecom, gives FON a lot of relevance. This being said, I am honoured by the fact that these three giants have imitated our formula that lets your roam for free if you pay for internet at home.

Indeed, this is a good formula, although in their case, they only connect you to the public hotspots of their network, which are few. For me the key is that in the future, we all give roaming so that there is effectively everywhere and we can all enjoy the internet wherever we are, whenever we want without having to pay a cent more than what we pay at home. This will increase the value of all the offers on the internet and will help enormously to one day have a mobile broadband internet which is essential for building an information society.

At FON, we have probably become in these last couple of hours, the leader in hotspots in Spain although, I admit that we might have more foneros than they have hotspots but their hotspots are more strategically located and for this reason, it is in everyone’s interest to collaborate. They have quality, we have coverage.

I’ve known Luis Lada since the Jazztel days. He’s a great manager of big companies. He will most certainly be César Alierta’s successor. For now, I only met César once to talk about FON and he was very friendly. I think there is a lot of mutual respect and admiration; I think he admires the way I can build a company from an idea and I admire how Telefónica outranked other telcos under his leadership. At our respective levels, we both sign deals outside of Spain – for example O2 in his case and Google and Skype in my case. But what’s interesting is that we’re both based in Madrid.

All this to say, I don’t think Luis Lada or Telefónica isagainst FON, but rather, I see great opportunities ahead to work together and do roaming deals. The most important for FON is that what we do creates a larger and wider network with more WiFi access points equipped with software that can be integrated into a roaming platform. I have just returned from the US where I was studying 802.11n and MIMO. If FON is viable the way it is now, with the 802.11n that has a signal range of 300 meters and which will soon become “fonable”, the WiFi nation will become a reality.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Cem Dalgic on March 6, 2006  · 


since FON is launched some friends, who are working for big telco companies are seing FON as an enemy not as a possibility of synergies, not even as new cash generator. But these are the rules of a cut-throat competition. Your success in US should open minds in Europe and brings FON to a bigger success here.
I know, that Telefonica is a tough competitor, but it also shows me that big names are watching at FON!


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teleken on March 6, 2006  · 

Will VidTorrent be layered over 802:11n
within the next few years?

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Steve Ross on March 6, 2006  · 

If you want to see some interesting promises on wifi range check out xmax at http://www.xgtechnology.com

Too good to be true? We’ll see.

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Martín Varsavsky on March 6, 2006  · 


Well Cem, we have made three deals with European ISPs and we have a few more in the States and in Europe that are being negotiated. I think ISPs are quickly realizing that Fon is a great thing for them, that we increase their ARPU and reduce their churn, that our rules make it such that first you have to be their client, then a fonero, and that protects them.


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Martín Varsavsky on March 6, 2006  · 


I don´t know!


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Martín Varsavsky on March 6, 2006  · 

Will check it our right now Steve, thanks!


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Cem Dalgic on March 7, 2006  · 

OK. Then what´s my incentive to change the ISP? You know, some customers have signed 12 or even 24 month contracts with them.

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evtrit b murcia on March 7, 2006  · 

the big guys always want to crush the little guys.Thats nature. But here, the big guys really do need the little guys .Wifi must be seen from the snails view not the satellite view. It cant come in big places only but must be everywhere. Like the snail it has to creep around and wrap around every block nook and cranny and the big boys cant do that unless they copy FON.and that they wont do as of yet. The real work here is the grunt, thr infantryman who at home leaks wifi to passerbyers. telefonica cant ask or force anyone to leak share wifi.They could lower their price and get volunteers.Wifi sharing is today an idea of the young crowd wanting to share the world .Fon really doesnt need to work with telefonica or any big cos. It just needs to be It will be parallel to big wifi hotspots . eventually wifi will fall from the sky like radio and it will be everywhere anyway. Fon is on that way but will one day disappear.

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dan on March 8, 2006  · 

This is natural and not necessarily meant against FON. In Canada all the 3 major ISPs are investing 200M$ in common hotspots. This was announced back in August or so (Inukshuk internet), which means negotiations must have started many months before that. They have a few thousands deployed already. Those spots are in prime high-traffic areas and using local technology.


The again, Canada has the largest or 2nd largest per capita Internet and PC penetration in the world and many municipal wi-fis. There are more ISPs here than polar bears. 🙂

Don’t read too much on the European announcement.

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dravya on March 8, 2006  · 

True about Canada. Toronto hydro is also blanketing Toronto with Wi-FI from street lights (10M investment), and Telecom Ottawa already has downtown Ottawa covered. Mind you they charge a lot. But we can’t buy FON routers in Canada Martin!

3.0 rating

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