Bills, we owe you, I know. Like we said many times in the past, the WiFi revolution needs both the socialists (the Linuses) and the “free marketeers” (the Bills). For now, perhaps unfairly, only Linuses can use FON. But what I can say to the Bills (who are waiting to set up their router and place their antena where they can catch lots of Aliens ready to pay for a connection) is that we are working very hard to set up a secure system for the Bill option to operate smoothly and safely.
Luckily, we’re not the ones who invented the idea of having a hotspots and charging users of these hotspots. Spain has 1000 charging hotspots and Europe has more than 25,000, so there are systems already tried and tested that we’re adapting. But “For when?” you ask. January 15th seems to be a reasonable date. Today, if you are a Bill you can install the firmware and sign up as a Bill as soon the Bill option is ready.
Now, who should be a Bill? If you own a bar, a restaurant, a hotel, a pharmacy, a laundro-mat, a newspaper kiosk, or if you live in a place where lots of tourists pass by, then you should be a Bill. We’re currently testing directional WiFi antenas that increase your WiFi coverage (perfect for parks!) and we’re also in talks with super Bills. Super Bills are entrepreneurs who want to invest in routers and place them in public places and then share their revenue with FON and the owners of these public places, so that the latter don’t have to buy routers themselves.
When journalists ask me why is it that I am building FON my answer is simple. To enjoy a global wifi roaming network and, if I can, to make money in the process. ¿Why do people join FON? Basically for the same reason. To have wifi roaming and, if they can, to make money in the process.
Now, what is so original about FON? It´s not the idea, hotspots as wifi payphones were invented the minute 802.11 was defined. What´s original about FON is that our software is downloaded from the net into people´s wifi access points thereby turning their own access points into members of a global wifi network. Boingo, The Cloud, Telekom, Swisscom with Eurospot or Telefonica have all built separate wifi networks to sell hotspot services. FON turns every citizen into a hotspot provider. Once they do this, they can either be Bills and charge for their wifi or Linuses and not charge but get free roaming priviledges.
A big thank you to all the foners out there who sent us data on Telefonica, The Cloud and T Mobile hotspots.
To recap: Telefonica currently has the largest WiFi network in Spain with 900 hotspots. The Cloud has the largest WiFi network in Europe with 6000 hotspots. And finally, T Mobile has the largest WiFi network in the world with 14,000 hotposts. FON already has 1500 pre-registered foners, so this means that very soon, FON will have a larger network than Telefonica. Coupled with FON expansion in France and Sweden, FON could be the largest WiFi network in Europe by April of next year, with more than 6000 hotspots (to which Linuses will connect for free!).