I am very happy to say that FON Germany will announce tomorrow morning that in Germany and Austria FON has decided to change our Fonera (wlan/wifi social router) distribution , from a system based on credit to a system based on trust. From tomorrow FON will not charge any money, nor ask credit card information to inhabitants of Germany and Austria who ask for a Fonera. The only request on FON’s part is that the FONeros simply promise to leave the Fonera on for the benefit of the fonero community. Should somebody who receives a fonera not want to be a FONero anymore all that we ask is that the Fonera be given out to another FONero candidate or tu us. That´s all. We will send one per household until supplies last.

We chose Germany and Austria after conversations with our partners at Skype and Google. The main reasons for this decision were that of all the countries in which we operate, German and Austrian FONeros have shown the highest rates of connectivity after purchasing routers. They are also the FONeros who percentage wise use FON functionality the most, including registering their Foneras, placing themselves in our maps and personalizing their wifi/wlan signal screens that allow other people in the neighborhood to learn about them. These countries have also risen from the back of the FON country lists ot the 3rd most active countries after USA and Spain, our home. Focus has already picked up the news, but the new system will be operational tomorrow and more details will be disclosed tomorrow by Christiane Zu Salm and Robert Lang, who run Fon in Germany and all of Europe out of Munich.

After we test the FONero promise distribution system in Germany and Austria, should this work out well, we will extend it to more countries. The next candidate for a distribution system based on trust may be Korea. Korean FONeros are showing the same type of commitment as Germans and Austrians. In other countries we will continue selling the Foneras for 5 euros or dollars plus shipping and in some cases VAT until we find out the most reliable ways to grow FON.

The investors in FON are willing to make the investment that it takes to grow the network, but we need to make sure that if we give away Foneras in other countries that they end up connected as they will be in Germany and Austria. In the meantime I take the opportunity to thank the German and Austrian FONeros pioneers who signed up with FON early on. It is thanks to them that we now have over 3500 active access points in Germany and we are nearing passing T Mobile in its home country by number of points. I also want to thank our friends at OpenBC in Hamburg for having helped us promote FON from the early start and our friends at Plazes, a great German start up, who are helping us with our maps. We also want to thank some of the amazing German programmers who have helped Fon since the beginning including Felix and Sebastian. At Fon we believe that thanks to the fonero promise way of distributing foneras Fon we will be the largest wifi community in Germany by year end.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Alexander on October 19, 2006  · 

Sounds great, can’t wait.

3.0 rating

Antoin O Lachtnain on October 19, 2006  · 

I think this is a great idea! Applying resources in a sensible, evidence-based way. Let’s see how it goes!

3.0 rating

Martin Varsavsky on October 19, 2006  · 


We have the first figures and they look great. When we were charging for the foneras 1% of the unique visitors to the German web site would buy one. Now that what we ask is a promise to leave the fonera on but no money we are getting 8X more conversions!

3.0 rating

Pepi Huber on May 7, 2007  · 

FON might be a great idea – if business practices were according to law.

It is not ok to announce free stuff to grab attention and collect user data without providing anything at all.

Or what would you think, if you register and get several written confirmations for a free La Fonera router but no delivery for month.

Well ok, if FON believes to survive on this, I will prove the opposit. Watch out!

3.0 rating

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