At FON, we’re studying the possibility of coming out with a WiFiFON with a worldwide flat calling plan. We think that we’ll be able to charge 30€ a month for a WiFiFON that can connect to the FON network and to all open WiFi networks, and be able to call other WiFiFONS as well as all landline numbers in Europe, North America, Argentina, Russia, Taiwan and many many more countries. Stay tuned…

We were examining the issue of coverage for Wififons yesterday and we concluded that although the advantage of Wififon over GSM (in terms of calling costs) is incredible, the disadvantage in terms of coverage is also quite important. For this reason, we’re thinking of creating DUAL Wififons that would combine WiFi and GSM. This way, foners would be able to call for free if there’s Wifi and pay if there isn’t. Either way, foneros would always stay connected. In other words, FON would also sell Wififons where you could insert a SIM card and mobile operators would make money.

Although very expensive, there’s no doubt that mobile operators have the best coverage and few people today are willing to completely let go off their GSM.

It pains me to say this because I am a big admirer of Linksys and Skype, but last night, i tested the Skype telephone by Linksys, the CIT200, and i was very disappointed. The problems? Well first, it costs a hefty €150. Second, it doesn’t use WIFI but DECT. And thirdly, it works with a cable. Basically, it’s technology of the 80s mixed with Skype. If you don’t have your computer on, you can’t use your phone!

Compared to the CIT200, the WiFifon, which works whether or not your computer is on and works on any FON or open access point, is so much better. Skype needs to start selling its own WiFifon. It’s giving Microsoft a huge opportunity to come out with a Wifi voice gadget and eventually completely dominate the market. Instant Messenger already has a voice and video capability. Put this in a small WiFi enable device that you can use on the FON network and sell it to those 90 million IM users in Europe, and you’re almost impossible to beat.

During the 10 first years of the web, two huge communities gradually formed: the GSM telephone community and the IM community (Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo, AOL), which represent 20% and 10% of the world’s population, respectively. In the next 5 years, these two communities will fuse and the person who will lead this fusion will make lots of users happy with a system with voice, video, file transfer and chat; all over a WiFi network. This will be much more powerful than today’s 3G.

The crux of FON is to interchange bandwidth in your home with bandwidth outside of your home. This will enable you to pay exactly what you’re paying now but with much better service, since what you’ll have is access to a wifi nation. In addition, I realised today that thanks to WiFiFONs – which we plan to launch in November (a mobile WiFi telephone that connects to the FON network) – and the flat fee for a fixed line offered by Telefonica, Jazztel or Ya.comm to which most FON members are already subscribed to, users will be able to do something really neat.

The idea is the following: that each FON member connects his/her WIFIFON to the flat fee she/he is subscribed to so that, instead of paying us, say, 5c a minute, the user speaks for FREE. I suppose my marketing colleagues will say that this is shooting ourselves in the foot but while we will have to find another way of making money, from a user’s perspective, I think it’s great to be able to use your own connection to transfer mobile-to-phone.

How does this work? This little gadget might be the answer: a VOIP switch connected to a public network, a tool that can organise your own telecommunication. For the techis out there, it’s simple: become a FON member and buy a WiFiFON but configure it so that instead of paying us you have calls coming out of the flat fee you are already subscribed to. In other words, it will be like a mobile phone that uses your fixed line  without any additional cost. This wouldn’t be something FON would do, members would have to install it themselves. Moreover, even without FON, you can already do this just by downloading VOIP software in your laptop. You buy this gadget, and you get something better than SkypeOut, because your new tool is SkypeOut for FREE!

One thing is clear though: this little installation would never reach the quality of your current mobile since, where there is no FON, you won’t have any coverage!

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