You don’t usually expect innovation to come from big established players like incumbent telecom operators. They usually have invested so much in legacy technologies and traditional business models that hardly anything new or disruptive can come out of their labs. But sometimes there are exceptions. I’ve recently learned about ClubADSL, a new service the Spanish incumbent Telefónica is developing to increase the capacity of residential ADSL users by sharing broadband with their neighbors.

The technology Telefónica is testing could soon allow users to connect simultaneously to multiple wireless access points to get more bandwidth for services like HD video or other bandwidth hungry applications. The bandwidth available to an user will be the sum of the bandwidth available to him and his nearest neighbors. This is based on the fact that WiFi connections offer far larger capacity then that provided by a DSL line and that users rarely use their DSL connection to its full potential. ClubADSL will equally share the bandwidth available between customers in the same Club and guarantee the quality of service for each subscriber by giving him prioritized access to his own DSL line.

How does this compare to FON? Both FON and ClubADSL users use WiFi to share their bandwidth with others, but Foneros do it to roam for free on other Fonspots, while members of ClubADSL do it to get more bandwidth at home. This proposition is clearly very different. Nonetheless Telefonica could possibly use the same technology to allow users to connect to ClubADSL connections when you are not at home. There are many privacy and security concerns involved when creating a similar network. We at FON have solved these thanks to our Fonera, the router that gives you two WiFi signals, a public and a private signal, and lets you choose how much of your bandwidth you want to share with Foneros and Aliens. Our partnerships with operators like BT, Neuf and ZON demonstrate FON is the best option for a telecom operator that wants to expand its WiFi footprint and give more value to their users, that can then use their Internet connection at home and roam the world for free.

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Nigel Jones on March 23, 2009  · 

Very interesting. As you say not a “competitor” to FON, very much an complementary technology.

I actually use O2 broadband (telefonica) at home in the UK, and have FON. I’d lbe very interested to use this too, and O2 penetration in the UK is pretty good thanks to their excellent prices *and* service.

If they can get some QOS sorted that would be good too… there should be a min. guaranteed % bandwidth for the bill payer on their local AP.

Good for reliability too if local connection goes down.

The problem is always wifi range. Frankly that’s the issue with FON too. I’ve had a FON AP active for ages, but the range is only a house or two. Could be same issue with this approach. (perhaps sneakernet over the garden fence?).

Great if they also combined this with a local 3G femtocell ….. my local umts coverage is rather dodgy (home and work). Of course I used to have a Nokia N95 with truphone but Nokia in their wisdom removed the telephony client from the N96. Smart e? (sorry nokia – you lost the plot/peeved off customers on that one)

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Elmar Klausmeier on March 28, 2009  · 

The following web-site might be of interest, as it uses very similar ideas compared to FON: (text is in German)

Interestingly, T-Systems is partly sponsoring this.

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