Today I met with Ron Sege CEO of Tropos Networks. We were both at the Googleplex for different reasons so we chose to meet there. It was a lunch meeting at 1pm. It was one of these awkward days in which I try to pack a lot of meetings to be able to fly back to be with the family in Spain so I actually had two lunches, one with Megan Smith from Google at noon and another one with Ron at one. At Google however this is not a problem because they have the best corporate food I have ever tasted. But let´s focus on the second lunch, the one with Ron. Ron is a very able and experienced CEO whose objective is to build meshed wifi networks. Tropos under his leadership is doing a great job. One of their clients is Google in Mountain View. Our meeting however did not center around Google but around municipal wifi. Fon has been invited to make proposals to some major cities around the world. Cities like our offer because it does not turn them into telecom operators, because telecom operators make more and not less money with Fon, because our solution relies on citizen participation and because our solution is practically free to the cities. Just promote that citizens buy routers and place them by their windows, offer free coverage to those who donate and very affordable coverage ($2 per day) for those who visit the city or don´t donate. Cities then only buy routers at 25 dollars each to install in their spaces namely schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. One problem however with the Fon solution for the city is that it cannot easily provide street coverage in very open areas. Another one is that it provides random coverage that is more indoor than outdoor. Tropos solves this for Fon. At the same time Fon solves indoor and ubiquitous coverage for Tropos so it looks that the two companies should find a way to collaborate. The first thing we will do is to see how compatible our software is with theirs. And then maybe we will make some joint presentations. To me it´s clear that nobody has all the solutions to the coverage problem and that Fon must connect and collaborate with all the key players. I also wanted to thank Christopher Sacca at Google for introducing us. Chris like me keeps a blog of his work and ideas.
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