Expansión (the leading business newspaper in Spain), published an online article today (for its subscribers) where they pit me against Luis Lada, of Telefónica Moviles, arguing that he is leading an alliance against FON. Knowing Luis Lada a bit, I really doubt that the Telefónica press machinery is behind this article, bearing in mind that pitting FON against giants like Telefónica, flanked by Telecom Italia and Portugal Telecom, gives FON a lot of relevance. This being said, I am honoured by the fact that these three giants have imitated our formula that lets your roam for free if you pay for internet at home.
Indeed, this is a good formula, although in their case, they only connect you to the public hotspots of their network, which are few. For me the key is that in the future, we all give roaming so that there is effectively everywhere and we can all enjoy the internet wherever we are, whenever we want without having to pay a cent more than what we pay at home. This will increase the value of all the offers on the internet and will help enormously to one day have a mobile broadband internet which is essential for building an information society.
At FON, we have probably become in these last couple of hours, the leader in hotspots in Spain although, I admit that we might have more foneros than they have hotspots but their hotspots are more strategically located and for this reason, it is in everyone’s interest to collaborate. They have quality, we have coverage.
I’ve known Luis Lada since the Jazztel days. He’s a great manager of big companies. He will most certainly be César Alierta’s successor. For now, I only met César once to talk about FON and he was very friendly. I think there is a lot of mutual respect and admiration; I think he admires the way I can build a company from an idea and I admire how Telefónica outranked other telcos under his leadership. At our respective levels, we both sign deals outside of Spain – for example O2 in his case and Google and Skype in my case. But what’s interesting is that we’re both based in Madrid.
All this to say, I don’t think Luis Lada or Telefónica isagainst FON, but rather, I see great opportunities ahead to work together and do roaming deals. The most important for FON is that what we do creates a larger and wider network with more WiFi access points equipped with software that can be integrated into a roaming platform. I have just returned from the US where I was studying 802.11n and MIMO. If FON is viable the way it is now, with the 802.11n that has a signal range of 300 meters and which will soon become “fonable”, the WiFi nation will become a reality.
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