This has been a very good week for Fon. I’m very excited to announce that my lawyer Douglas from Ostrolenk Faber sent me an e-mail telling me that an important patent we filed in 2006, issued on Tuesday.
Simplifying all the legal details, the patent basically boils down to this: it protects the core business model of Fon in the US.
As most of you already know, with Fon “you share WiFi at home and you roam the world for free connecting to like-minded people”. For those of you unfamiliar with our business model, here’s how it works: one user, the Fonero, connects a Fonera WiFi router to his DSL/Cable/Fiber internet source or modem. Thereby he creates a Fon hotspot. If a Fonero wants to connect to another Fonero’s hotspot, he can do so for free in any of our 3.7 million hotspots of the largest and fastest growing WiFi network in the world. If a non-Fonero (at Fon we call this person an “Alien”) is in range of the Fonero’s hotspot and wants to connect to the internet with any WiFi device, he can do so for a moderate access fee.
The good thing about our technology is that it is not tied to the Foneras. Our software can transform almost any standard WiFi router into a Fonera! This makes it easy for most ISPs (like BT) to convert their routers into Foneras and make the Fon community even larger.
What’s special about this patent is that it relies on the community aspect of Fon. It specifically requires at least two users to share their bandwidth through two separate WiFi routers, which seems pretty obvious but is important when it comes down to the legal aspect. This is also what sets Fon apart from other WiFi networks that work without Foneros and offer only paid access to the internet.
In summary, this patent is very good news for us and will give our future business partners in the US even more reasons/confidence to work with us, accelerating our growth. It is also good news for people in the US since the availability of WiFi hotspots will increase dramatically during the next few years. And, of course, this patent means good news for all existing Foneros, who will soon be able to roam more and more parts of the US for free!
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars