This article says that ABI research forecasts that by the end of 2007 there will be 179,500 hotspots around the world. They forget to count FON Spots. FON has around 140K WiFi hotspots now and we should have around 300K by year end. Maybe more. And now that we have introduced the La Fontenna, our coverage which has certainly been one of our weaknesses, will greatly increase. By the end of 2006 FON became the largest WiFi community in the world. By the end of 2007, we will be larger than all of the other networks combined. And all with the same software, in open source and ready to receive developers apps. If you have a cool app that you would like to make part of FON please send me an email and I will forward it to the right teams.

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Jon on June 8, 2007  · 

140k hotspots, congratulations! May I ask how many of them are bills and how many are linus, and are the all active?

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freechelmi on June 8, 2007  · 

Well , considering

There is 22156 activs hotspots in europe ..

So there are ~120K Hotspots in the rest of the world ?

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Martin Varsavsky on June 8, 2007  · 


Around 20% are bills, 140K are active, but they are not all active at any one time. We don´t know how many are active at any one time cause the older foneras do not send us heartbeat nor do the foneras made out of Linux and Mac PCs, but it´s safe to say that at least half of those around the world. We are now initiating a big campaign to make people keep their foneras on. We have seen that the people who turn them off are those who fail to connect others. The Fontennas will greatly change things in this regard as Foneras with Fontennas have a coverage that is 10X greater.

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Martin Varsavsky on June 8, 2007  · 


Europe represents around one third of our hotspots. But in any case we don´t know how many are active ourselves as we can´t measure those with older firmware nor those who download in Macs, Linux. But to give you a sense T Mobile has around 25K hotspots globally, so even 22156 in Europe alone is a lot.

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Jason on June 9, 2007  · 


I hope you will answer this question accurately without dodging them.

1. How many aliens actually used the service during the last month? i.e the number of times someone paid money to a fonera and connected to a Fon Hotspot.

2. What was the total dollar value of time sold over your entire Fon network over the last month?

The reason I’m saying is that judging purely by folks who get the free router and register on your website doesn’t mean anything. I have registered with fon, never setup a router even though I get emails from Fon virtually pleading with me to take a free router.

This is important for all us since if we are fooling ourselves at the end of the day the fall will be hard.


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Martin Varsavsky on June 9, 2007  · 

Jason, u cheated the fonero community, broke your promise, did not install your fonera….who is dodging who?

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Euronerd on June 9, 2007  · 

This is not the first time around your present interesting numbers.
We never see any supporting statistical information, it is always statements without clear background.
Now, once you did shut down the map site, because FON thought the information was abused and apparently wrong.
The maps are back in place, and are the only source of statistical information you offer.
Somehow, this blog follows starting a thread on your English community board, that discusses exactly this (lack of) information.
You may be interested in supplying exact and verifiable numbers?

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steven on June 9, 2007  · 

– people are operating their fonera within the “promise”…it’s powered on and all lights are green
– people get an email their fonera is defective and need to contact
– they get a reply back after more than 1 business day (sometimes a month)
– solution un/replug power feed of fonera…and wait untill the next email telling it’s defective again?

some people I know don’t find this the correct solution?

Also lot’s of people are still concerned that the Fonera is Too hot… (80 degrees is indeed HOT)

We’ve allready asked why the fonera isn’t supplied with a 3,2V adapter instead of a 5V if it only requires 3,2V (the rest is used in heat…)

at 80°C the Fonera can be unstable…

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Not Jason on June 9, 2007  · 

Jason said:
I have registered with fon, never setup a router even though I get emails from Fon virtually pleading with me to take a free router.

He never said he bought a router, he never said he received a router, only thing he claims is registration. An honest Alien.
And you start calling him a cheater and say that he broke his promise….

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Martin Varsavsky on June 10, 2007  · 

All the information we have we put on the maps but we are trying to understand why we have many complaints of people who say their foneras are on and do not appear on in the maps. As far as the foneras being hot I have 3 in my home operating for months in Spain. In Madrid these days it´s over 30 degrees and I leave my home without AC and the foneras work perfectly well.

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EN @ FON on June 10, 2007  · 

Hi, all, I work at FON! My comments here at not really “official” because I am not part of the support or technical teams. But, I wanted to step in and calm the skeptics. If you’re a techie, I can assure you that FON is fully of techies just like you with the same passion for WiFi and IT and are doing their best to make FON as cool and easy as you want it to be. No one here is trying to do anything different, so I can never quite fully comprehend people’s animosity. As a matter of fact, as I am a non techie myself, I am always really impressed by our technical department’s dedication and passion for technological openness, free software, etc.

In any event, I am not sure I follow all of the fuss here. Jason’s comment when referring to people who buy the La Fonera but do not install them appears to infer that he is amongst those people. Maybe he is, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that FON is a Community of people who install the La Fonera and share WiFi for the benefit of all. Because this is important to FON, we developed the La Fonera to make sharing easier and more secure, and have not sold the La Fonera as a profit making venture, but simply as tool to build the Community.

Our philosophy is one of trust: we believe that Foneros want to build the Community because they understand the benefits. Therefore, all we asked in return for free La Foneras was a “handshake” promise to install them and keep them online. So when someone gets a free La Fonera and doesn’t install it, they are cheating the Community’s trust. Sure, at the end of the day we are all to blame — those who don’t install or keep them online and us who work at FON who may not have sufficiently motivated these people to keep them online.

So, if you don’t have a La Fonera installed at home, then you really have nothing to complain about. You are neither gaining nor losing anything. You are simply not participating in the Community.

In terms of numbers of FON Spots, you can go on the FON Maps and see registered but not presently active FON Spots and FON Spots that are presently online (by the colors). As I am not a techie, I can’t give you a good explanation of how this all works and how to validate the data. But, I do know that when I personally turn off my router and check the maps, the color changes at the location of my FON Spot, and when I turn it back on, the color changes back again.

Sometimes when your La Fonera auto-updates the firmware, you may have to turn it on and off again before it shares WiFi again, and that may be why its lights are on, on the router, but it doesn’t appear online on the Maps or why you get the “please activate your FON Spot” emails.

The Maps were at one time shut down to add additional security features to avoid the data being hacked.

In terms of transparency, and this isn’t just good old-fashioned kissing-your-boss’s-ass, I can’t really think of any other CEO’s out there with a Tell-All blog. Martin blogs everything about FON, both the good and the bad. He doesn’t hold back even if the news isn’t great. Yeah, a lot of us would like him to slow down, but Martin wants all of his readers to know in real time how FON is being built and to get their feedback and input.

Thus, FON isn’t the CIA, but a bunch of techies being exposed in real time, so conspiracy theories don’t really make sense.

Anyways, I hope this helps!

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Euronerd on June 10, 2007  · 

-“Jason’s comment when referring to people who by La Fonera but do not install them appears to infer that he is amongst those people.”

No, that is YOUR twisted interpretation. And Martins.

-“Maybe he is, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter.”

Doesn’t it? What does matter is that his comment is ignored, he is insulted and you think it “doesn’t matter”. Behold the “FON-mentality”.

“So, if you don’t have a La Fonera installed at home, then you really have nothing to complain about. You are neither gaining nor losing anything. You are simply not participating in the Community.”

Who is complaining? I see perfectly reasonable remarks, questions and requests. No complaints.

“As I am not a techie, I can’t give you a good explanation of how this all works and how to validate the data.”

And apparently neither is Martin. That poses FON no problem at all when presenting numbers to the press or general audience. (In fact I don’t blame FON for exaggerating a bit, that’s what company’s do.)
Problem is, it is so transparently incorrect, and every time the question pops up, the answer is FON doesn’t know how to count properly. Technical problems are inferred but not solved.

“The Maps were at one time shut down to add additional security features to avoid the data being hacked.”

If it wasn’t so sad, it would make me laugh.

“In terms of transparency, and this isn’t just good old-fashioned kissing-your-bosses-ass, I can’t really think of any other CEO’s out there with a Tell-All blog.”

The rest of your comment isn’t much more than exactly that, low in content high in company-spirit.
Doesn’t matter, because you honestly told you work at FON.
And I do agree Martin is relatively very open in his blog.
As it goes with entrepreneurs, the drive they feel doesn’t always keep pace with reality, but you already hinted at that.

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Mike on June 10, 2007  · 

EN, the map shutdown had to do with the vulnerability I reported, which would allow anyone to reposition all of Fon’s hotspots on the maps at will? Just curious…

Regarding the ‘we don’t know how many routers are online’ line, and the ages-old excuse ‘it’s the Linksys’ fault!’ – well, it’s starting to get a bit thin. Fon has shipped almost 200k Foneras, at least this was reported not so long ago – you would have thought that the few thousand Linksys that were sold at the beginning would have little impact on your ability to report statistics. In any case, you could simply report the statistics on the Fonera, discounting the Linksys, right? I am sure you know how many Foneras were sold, how many registered, and how many are online right now. If there are some unknown Linksys out there, then so much the better!

So, how many Foneras are online today?

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jason on June 10, 2007  · 

Martin – Jason, u cheated the fonero community, broke your promise, did not install your fonera….who is dodging who?

No, I did not get a router. I could have, I had a few emails telling me “you are selected for a free router”. I simply registered on the Fon site to see what this entire hoopla was all about.

Martin, my objective in writing the earlier post was not to point fingers, but to indicate that the statistics you provide need certain relevancy. You said that Fon is the largest wifi community in the world, naturally by extension one would want to know the variables by which you define that and the core of that is – Usage volume. Isn’t that a fair question?

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EN @ FON on June 11, 2007  · 

Thanks, Mike! There is a good reason why I don’t work in the techie department or why I wrote my comments extra-officially. So, I just spoke with the FON Map nerds, and they told me that the Maps have never been shut down, except for maybe very short intervals for basic maintenance. I had, erroneously, assumed based on Euronerd’s remarks regarding a shut down that it was in fact due to the vulnerability alert.

Also, and sorry for this, I am not familiar with you, Mike. But the Map nerds told me that, yes, in fact it was you who had giving us the heads-up on the vulnerability, but that it was corrected online without having to do a shut down. Thanks for your help on that!!! We really appreciate Foneros like you who are helping us improve!

In terms of the FON Spots, I will have the numbers for you in in a little bit.

Anyways, thanks for your help!!!!

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EN @ FON on June 11, 2007  · 


I do apologize if I have not made myself clear. There was no intention to disrespect Jason here or anyone else. Obviously Martin interpreted Jason as someone who had not fulfilled the Fonero Promise. My response that “it didn’t matter” referred to interpreting whether Jason was or was not a Fonero who had installed a La Fonera, not whether his comments were of importance. I was referring to the importance of building the Community, not to a debate about how to interpret his comment.

And regarding the laughable question about the Maps, I have responded to Mike on this.

I don’t know if I would call it an excess of company spirit. Rather, FON is full of people like me who have spent the last year and half, 24/7 doing their best to create a WiFi community out of nothing.

Anyways, thanks for unravelling my twistedness  !

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Euronerd on June 11, 2007  · 

EN, your techies are correct, the maps never shut down.
Only thing that was (temporarily) unavailable were the POI downloads, after somebody you are not familiar with, managed to base statistics on them.

This POI unavailability made the Maps as good as useless, hence my mistake in calling it a shut down.

The shut down of POI was so clearly related to the statistical use, that all other explanations have a funny effect on me 🙂

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EN @ FON on June 11, 2007  · 

Mike, Euronerd, Jason, et al,

Sorry for the delay! Because of this post, I have spent way too much time with the FON techies!!! The next thing you know I’ll be installing Ubuntu and going through a drastic lifestyle change. Anyways, let’s see if I can help resolve these number questions.

In terms of FON Spots out there, the total number of FON Spots that have been activated is roughly 170,000. Obviously, people are turning off and on, plugging in and unplugging their routers all the time, so that at any given moment that number fluctuates significantly. That’s why we use the color coding system so that you can see when a FON Spot is currently on.

The way we calculate the number of online FON Spots is by receiving what we internally call the router’s “heartbeat”. One problem with the information we receive is that not all FON Spots that produce the heartbeat appear on the FON Maps. There are about 96,000 FON Spots geo-located (meaning appearing on the Maps) and about 74,000 not appearing (but which indicate that they are in fact online). In many cases this is not because Foneros did not try but because we were not able to correctly locate their addresses and place them on our Maps with our automatic geo-localization system. This can be frustrating for the Fonero who sees that the La Fonera is on but does not see it on the Maps. While we are trying to improve this, for any Fonero who doesn’t find their own FON Spot, we suggest they go to their User Zone to manually place their FON Spot in the correct location.

There are also FON Spots that are online but do not send us a FON Spot heartbeat, but I am not really factoring these in the above totals because without a heartbeat I can’t give accurate numbers. Some of these come from the Mac and Linux FON Spots of which we had some 6,800 downloads, and then some from the older compatible router with the earlier firmware versions (ie, Linksys, etc).

Anyways, I hope this helps. As we improve the usability in terms of Foneros defining their locations, the geo-localization on the FON Maps, and our ability to give the most accurate data, we’ll keep you all informed.

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Jef on June 12, 2007  · 

Hi dear all,
First post, an happy linus, I am just fascinated by all you do and debate and would like to bting my 2-cents contribution.
I have taken the habit, before going to unfamiliar places worldwide, to load POI databases, either by country or by lon/lat ranges, into excel worksheet. Adding a distance indicator to some target location let me sort the worksheet by distance indicator for me to visit closest FONspots.
This routine frequently shows 20-30% POI being located at 1000’s km from destnations.
That is 0N,0E places, lat/lon inverted to lon/lat, omitted ‘-‘ and other frequent errors.

I would guess that automatized consistency check of POI databases, and corrections, could lead to clarification of ghost foneras and lesser undue aggressivity of the `you are cheating` type.

Hope this helps.

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