At Fon if you get a Fonera (our social, WiFi router that partitions WiFi networks creating a private and a public signal) and you keep it on, you can roam the world for free connected to other people´s Foneras. With this simple proposition Fon has created the largest WiFi network in the world by number of hotspots or by number of countries. Our formula protects those who share from viruses, it protects their privacy and it reserves most bandwidth for their own use so foneros feel safe. Fon also protects ISPs or Telcos from the leeching that now normally occurs when people who do not pay for broadband roam by connecting to other people´s open routers (Linksys and Netgear come open) so ISPs and telcos prefer Fon to open WiFi that leads to less broadband uptake and higher churn. So Foneros can roam the world for free feeling safe. ISPs in turn, allow Fon because even though in theory it may violate their terms and conditions in practice it makes them sell more broadband and reduce churn (with Fon customers who travel a lot don´t churn). But what happens if you are not a fonero and you find Fon WiFi signal?
Right now what happens is that you can surf Skype, Google and Excite Japan for free because they are our investors and sponsors. Or you have to pay 3 euros or dollars for the first 24 hours to surf any point in our network and 2 euros or dollars any day thereafter. But at Fon we are now experimenting with another possibility and that is that instead of being sponsored by individual web sites that WiFi is sponsored by companies showing viral type ads. So by watching one of those you can surf say 30 minutes for free, then you see another ad and surf another 30 minutes and so on. And if you want to surf commercial free you can become a Linus Fonero share a little bandwidth at home and roam the world for free, and never see commercials and surf the open Internet, or you can become an alien Fonero meaning that you buy daily access to our network and you can also surf for that day anywhere.
The next big development at Fon will be the deployment of the flat panel Fontennas which greatly increase the range of the Foneras to around 200 meters. With these antennas Fon´s coverage along a street will be greatly extended. At this point we may be ready with the Ad platform and the money we make from this Ads we will use to subsidize our growth so Linuses can have more Fonspots to roam into. With Bills we will have to come up with a formula to pay them for ads served similar to Google AdSense. Same with our ISP and Telco partners, we have to come up with a fair formula to share Ad revenue with them.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars