I just found out that there are many Fonspots that are lost. Namely that we know they exist but we don´t know where they are. And by many I mean around 70K of those. And that´s a lot of Fonspots. How can this be? Well, people get the Foneras, plug them, use them as wifi routers but they don´t tell the Fonero community where they are. Or they try to tell the fonero community where they are but our software fails to geolocalize them. This is unfortunately quite common. Now those Foneras work very well and other Foneros, if they find them, can connect to them. But neither can the owners of those Foneras roam the world for free nor can Foneros find the signal. In order to fix the problem of the ghost Fonspots we will start communicating with the non geolocalized Foneros soon. We will also start a program by which if Foneros find these “ghost” Fonspots that they place them in our maps. Probably we will also ask foneros to report open wifi hotspots in our maps as well. We are looking at the pros and cons of doing this. On the positive side there is more coverage, Fon or open. On the negative side somebody may have their wifi open but may not want others to use it so if we do end up including open wifi as reported by foneros in our maps we will include warnings on this regard. But one way or another we have to find a way to bring many more fonspots into our maps.

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Demian on June 11, 2007  · 

Dear Martin,

I have come across some sites in the hacking community where people mention the Fonera and how to flash new firmware into it so as to free it from any relationship with FON. I wonder whether a (small?) portion of the ‘ghost’ fonspots you mention might be due to this practice. But then again… you would not be able to trace them (i.e. know they exist) had they managed to break the link with FON.

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Martin Varsavsky on June 11, 2007  · 


Some maybe, but we also have the macfonspots and linuxfonspots, 6000 so far that we cannot place.

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AustinTX on June 11, 2007  · 

Martin, we’ve been talking about the difficulty people have had in geolocating their hotspots for… a year now. Also, we’ve been pointing out that most hotspots show up on the maps as “not online”, and ones we’ve been watching have remained on the map even when “offline” for many months. I invite you to join us in the English discussion board and get caught up.

As a solution, the Fon routers could run a VPN service on board. This service would be available from both the clients at any given Fon hotspot, and to Foneros who are elsewhere on the Internet, at unsecure hotspots. This will provide encryption for the traffic across the unencrypted hotspot. The service would be a free bonus when at an actual Fon hotspot, or would be available as a proxy service when used from any other.

This makes “Fon VPN” a product that is saleable from any wifi hotspot in the world!

When used as a proxy service, Fon would find a router with spare capacity, when the Fonero launches an optional login_manager/VPN client. These proxy routers would certainly include routers which have been installed in places where their hotspot is so badly positioned, that they will never be in range of a Fonero, and ones which are improperly placed on the Fon Map, like these “ghost hotspots”.

This is a good way to make use of all of those La Foneras which have been placed where the public will never actually use them, and to provide incentive for Aliens to pay for Fon Internet service (due to VPN enhancement) even if free wifi is available at the same place. Or even to pay for Fon VPN Proxy when there isn’t even a Fon hotspot in range.

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Greg on June 11, 2007  · 

If you ask foneros to report open wifi hotspots in the maps what form of validation will you have that there is an actual open hotspot there? Also if they report an open hotspot it is impossible to know when this open hotspot is down or if the owner decides to add encryption to it.
If you actually decide to use open hotspots, I think there should be an option to tag these open networks but in a controlled environment such as a FON developed software where one needs to be connected to the open hotspot to report it. These hotspots should be cleared from the map a few months after they are added as their status may likely change. Of course they should be able to be re-added the same way again. There should be an option to view these open hotspots on the FON maps but it should not show them by default. This option to see them should also only be allowed to be viewed by registered Foneros (even aliens) because otherwise anyone can just use FON maps to find an open-hotspot.
One problem that this may cause though is that it may take away business from actual FON routers.

Hope I had some good insight

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steven on June 11, 2007  · 

If they phone home… you could use their public ip to trace their location…

You could also use their shipping adres or alien location if their poi is still set to longtitude 0 and lattitude 0

If they supported meshing perhaps they could give away there position when they see a fon hotspot which is listed correctly

When will “gps” be standard equipment so you will always know where they are 🙂

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Andrew on June 12, 2007  · 

The other day I found my Fonera listed in a the far East of LOndon, whne I am located int he cntral LOndon. Turned out Google maps was geolocalizing me according to Boston Street when my address is Boston Place. MOst UK mapping services would be using the far more accurate 6-digit post code, but this didn’t happen in this case. I ended up doing the positioning manually.

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swimgod on June 12, 2007  · 

there is a simple and effective way to locate these spots, give free day passes to aliens that find these spots and report the position. add a box at the FON_* page that says “recieve a free day pay for locating this Fonera. of course this would only show up on Foneras which position could not be determined…
also it is important that this feature ONLY work if the ip which the Fonera is sending matches the one accessing the FON_* page… it is quite easy to get the page with out even being there otherwise….

Like steven said you should use the shipping addresse as a temperary starting point for the location, maybe a special icon would indicate this case…

hope this helps with the ghost FON problem…

as a side note, the free day pass would incourage the use of their FON account 🙂

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Elliott on June 12, 2007  · 

My location never showed up on map. I sent email to technical service & never heard back. Later I got several emails telling me that my fonero was off & that I couldn’t roam. I sent email to technical service saying that I had my fonero on, but never heard back. I thought I was alone with the problem, but apparently not.

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Martin Varsavsky on June 12, 2007  · 

Yes, Greg, all those things are true. That´s why we are hesitant.

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Martin Varsavsky on June 12, 2007  · 

Good idea swimgod!

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Allan Edwards on June 29, 2007  · 

Have you looked at a data swap deal with http://www.navizon.com? Both Navizon and FON have a vested interest in an up to date Wi-Fi map.

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