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$5 Social Wi-Fi Router 297

slashjunkie writes "BBC News is running a story about the Spanish firm Fon, selling subsidized Linksys WRT54GL Wi-Fi routers for $5, in exchange for the buyer agreeing to a 12 month contract of providing access to other Fon users within range. With the financial backing of Google and Skype, their goal is to create Wi-Fi networks, street by street, across Europe and the US. Buyers of the subsidized routers can classify themselves as 'Linuses', whereby they also get free access to all other Fon hotspots, or 'Bills', where they receive 50% of the revenue made by on-selling their Wi-Fi to other Fon users. 'Alien' users can buy 24-hour passes for 3 Euro. To deter misuse, all Fon users must identify themselves by a username and password before they can access the hotspot. As long as the owner's personal LAN is not accessible, this could be a good way to offset the costs of the average geek's bandwidth bill."
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$5 Social Wi-Fi Router

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  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by denebian devil ( 944045 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:03AM (#15612073)
    Routers are so cheap nowadays (I got my wifi router a few years ago for $25, and wired routers regularly go for $5 or $10), why would you want to get one just a tad bit cheaper for the "privilege" of sharing it with others?
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dissolved ( 887190 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:05AM (#15612083)
      They're not that cheap everywhere... check out eBuyer ( I paid about $80 or so for mine in the UK.
      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phillips321 ( 955784 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:00AM (#15612385)
        I dont like this idea at all. What if me and my neighbour both have this service? I use my connection for normal usage and connect to his on another computer when i wish to do bandwidth hogging P2P, consequently my browsing recieves no slow down, yet his does....

        What if another memeber of this services uses my WiFi AP to connect to kiddie porn?

        A few days later, a few knocks on my door.......
        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Da_Weasel ( 458921 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @11:06AM (#15612770)
          Then they did so by logging in with their Fon username/pass, and thus the traffic is identifiable so long as some sort of logging takes place.

          BTW, I paid $75 for my wireless router, and I share with anyone that comes with in range. My essid is 'useme'. It's never caused me any problems. You can easily seperate your local network from the subnet that is used for wireless access, or simply setup a firewall between the local network and the AP. There are plenty of ways to protect your local network, although I would hope that this subsidized router would have something like this builtin because most of the people buying them probably won't understand the security issues involved.
          • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @04:10PM (#15615491)
            I've been noticing ESSID's like "GuestWiFi" around lately but I'm reluctant to use them. It seems to me like anyone asking me to connect is a high risk for man-in-the-middle attacks. There are so many potential ways to abuse this. Most DHCP users also receive DNS server settings. The person who controls what you use for DNS can do lots of interesting things, like sending or to their server with a fake login page that snags your account info.
        • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mantle ( 104724 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @11:09AM (#15612794)
          I don't see what's so insightful about this. If you slow down his connection with p2p to the point that he notices, he just uses your connection. Access to the router is logged with a username and password. There's your plausable deniability for kiddie porn.
    • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wiz31337 ( 154231 )
      You make an excellent point! You spend $5 for the router, but lose your bandwidth by having to share it.

      I thought most ISPs in Europe billed based on usage, if this is the case why would you want to share with anyone?
      • Well, my ISP charges a flat rate.

        My house is down a side street. No-one ever goes past it. I'm going to send off for one of these: $5 sounds like a great price and there's no-one who is ever likely to want to share it.

        I bet the router never arrives, though. These people are bound to go bankrupt in the next few days.

      • I thought most ISPs in Europe billed based on usage,..

        This is not the case in Scandinavia, I only know of a few ISPs that have transfer caps as well, with dialup connections you tend to have to pay by the minute though.. /Mikael

    • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ronanbear ( 924575 )
      Maybe you'd like the bit about how if you share your access for free you get access when roaming for free. Or maybe you'd prefer to get paid for sharing your access. The cheap router is only part of it. Having your connection slowed and people camped outside your house might be less desirable.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shawb ( 16347 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:11AM (#15612111)
      Because you also get the privelege of using the router of anyone else who has the service. Assuming wide enough adoption, this would mean you could use Wi-Fi pretty much anywhere. Not very useful for me right now as I don't have a laptop (and not to mention it's probably not widespread enough.) I can, however, see that in the future this would be extremely convienient. Especially if we are able to figure out an alternative I/O to the standard mouse/keyboard/screen model that would take up much smaller real estate than a laptop... basically access to the internet's information wherever you go. I can see why the company is trying to get entrenched in this business early... it will be the future of communications. The question is whether this particular company will be around long enough to reap the fruit of it's labor.
      • Re:So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by akross ( 985298 )
        I think something like this would be particularly useful for people who get the Opera browser for their DS. Wireless internet access in your pocket!
      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:32AM (#15612565) Homepage
        Especially if we are able to figure out an alternative I/O to the standard mouse/keyboard/screen model that would take up much smaller real estate than a laptop.
        Well for the whole keyboard/mouse issue you can fall back to a Chorded keyboard' []. Figure a trackball sized pad strapped on your hip for one handed operation.(no, the other hand is not for that)
        For the display you could always try a head mounted display []. The one pictured in the wiki is for stereo gaming, but they also make them to display on a single eyepiece.
        • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by shawb ( 16347 )
          Chording keyboards? They've been around long enough for people to have heard about them, but they so far have failed to catch on. I think most people just wouldn't be able to grok using it.

          Trackball sized pad on your hip? Would get uncomfortable after a while.

          Head mounted displays have serious problems from headaches to inability to quickly change focus to the real world.

          Speach recognition? Still not that great in studio quality silence, will be a disaster to use in loud areas, or places with m
      • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

        Especially if we are able to figure out an alternative I/O to the standard mouse/keyboard/screen model that would take up much smaller real estate than a laptop... basically access to the internet's information wherever you go.

        You just described Wearable Computing []. If you're interested in it, you should subscribe to the Wear-Hard mailing list [] and become familiar with some of the research [] groups [] working on such things.

        You can have a wearable computer right now -- the technology exists, and some people use i

    • it even gives you a reason in the SUMMARY/blurb

      " or 'Bills', where they receive 50% of the revenue made by on-selling their Wi-Fi to other Fon users"
    • Looks like Fon are trying to set up a social moverment rather than just another company. I shave to assume that the people who want to know why they should share their bandwidth are the same people who write code for Linux but don't publish it for fear that someone might benifit from their hardwork.

      I don't really believe that the cost of the router is important to most people reading here, I suspect despite some people claiming to have bought their routers for thrupence hapney most ./ reader have >$100

  • TOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by ronanbear ( 924575 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:05AM (#15612078)
    Most broadband providers specifically prohibit you from sharing your connection in this manner. If something like this were to become popular they'd just have to start clamping down on it.
    • Re:TOS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dsginter ( 104154 )
      Not to mention that WiFi isn't exactly the greatest medium for voice. I mean, you can only scale it back to 6Mbps. This is like using a sledgehammer to do dental work.

      I often wonder if the industry is specifically thwarting efforts to develop a wireless voice transmission medium for the public masses to protect cellular interests. I'd really love to see a low latency, high distance, high concentration 128kbps wireless link. This would allow employers, residences and municpalities to replace cell phones,
      • Re:TOS (Score:5, Informative)

        by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:32AM (#15612212) Homepage
        Can you imagine 20 users at a coffee shop trying to use WiFi voice at the same time?

        No probs. The 802.11a,b,g family has two different MAC schemes (the idea is stolen from Cable actually).

        There is a random access scheme similar to the ancient ethernet. In that case 20 VOIP users will simply bring the link down by trying to access the media.

        There is also a scheme under which the AP will transmit maps which tell each client when to transmit. I do not have the time to do the exact math at the time, but it should be possible to accommodate 20 VOIP clients using this MAC and leave some breathing space for normal access (not a lot though). The problem is that for this scheme to be usefull the clients must have means of getting reservations from the AP. Tough luck - no such clients out there. Similarly, the AP must have an integrated Layer2-Layer3 filtering mechanism which hooks up straight into MAC and creates transmit maps based on statefull filter context. Once again - tough luck. There is no such AP out there (AFAIK). On top of that while this is in the spec it is hardly in use anywhere so the level of testing clients have is very low. I would expect some of the more cheap and cheerfull clients which do MAC portions in software to be broken with regard to this.

      • Re:TOS (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
        Well, not being able to scale back below 6 Mbps isn't a bad thing. That means inherently more capacity (more users) IF the system is implemented right. Of course, for a small number of users per base station, a lower speed would be more appropriate to allow more independent base stations.

        The problem is that WiFi's channel access scheme is designed for packet switched data that often comes in large bursts. Its CSMA/CA scheme is great for that, but is vastly inferior in terms of overhead to TDMA or CDMA sc
    • Re:TOS (Score:5, Informative)

      by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15612189) Homepage
      Speakeasy ( encourage it though, which is ace.

      Although I can't find the page which explains it outside of my account pages (needs login, sigh) you can resell your connection and also sell your neighbours all-new connections, using a plan they have in place.

      This has been there for yeaaars.
      • Even if your provider encourages connection sharing, don't expect to get a WiFi router for just 5 EUR. Shipping to UK is 18 EUR, Czech Republic even 32.
      • ...their service contracts, or pre-sales claims. photostream/ []

        Simply observe the chat above. I tried to make it abundantly clear that I could use 100% of my bandwidth 100% of the time. Within 6 months, after repeated harassment, they gave me an ultimatum: Use less than 100G per month, or be terminated.

        Ultimately I was terminated. A few months later, I finally got $50 back; originally they were trying to charge me the $300 cancellation fee even though it was they who cancelled me, not the other way around.

        In talking with thier esclation director, he admitted that I was having zero impact on network performance.

        And, they say "no bots". And they consider bittorrent a fucking bot, if you'll believe that.

        This was AFTER I installed a scheduler that basically only downloaded at 10% capacity during business hours. That wasn't good enough.

        Buyer beware. SpeakEasy is nothing but another faceless corporation in my eyes. I've returned to the land of Mom-and-Pop ISPs. doesn't have great performance, but they leave me alone.

    • Yep. Roadrunner does this. I could never and would never do this just to get a WRT54GL.

    • And many don't prohibit you at all...
      Maybe Fon can provide a list of such companies, and encourage their users to sign up with such ISPs...
  • Legality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lilrowdy18 ( 870767 )
    I don't know about the rest of you but with Cox we can't share our Internet connection with other people in that manner. You would probably have to get some kind of agreement with your ISP before they would let you share your Internet connection for a profit.
  • shipping costs (Score:3, Informative)

    by tmk ( 712144 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:10AM (#15612105)
    In Germany the shipping costs 18 Euro - and the router is shipped in three weeks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:11AM (#15612109)
    I'll take one and be glad to share. Given that the house sits 700 feet from the nearest road and 5 miles from the nearest town, it might not help the cause much, but what the heck.
    • That's exactly it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @11:40AM (#15613004) Homepage Journal
      I live in a suburban neighborhood and it still wouldn't make much sense.

      From the corner of my street you can see 17 wifi networks, and many of them are unprotected. It seems unlikely that a FON user will ever feel the need to come across my network.

      I like the idea, but city access points will provide so much more value to FON and cost their operators so much more that they'll likely end up with a bunch of APs buried deep in suburbia.
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme ( 880747 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:12AM (#15612119)
    5e is not the actual cost that the router will cost to you. Besides 5e you have to pay postage and VAT, which in my case made the total cost near 26e. 26e is not that bad, but then again, with that money you can get an basic wireless access point. Thought, if you are moving a lot and need wireless access, then joining Fon would make some sense.
  • I have always wondered why no-one are doing this. I see many ISPs offering routers with wireless as a option.
    The pricing model seems a bit optimistic if people live in a area that isn't likely to have many guests around.
    I would rather do it the other way around saying that you pay full price for the line and then what you earn is subtracted from the line price first.
  • by should_be_linear ( 779431 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#15612124)
    TFA forgets to mention that besides "Linuses" and "Bills" there are also "Jobs" users that have same connection speed like users above, but opted to pay twice as much.
  • This is a great idea, and one I think will gain a lot of strength as information providers find ways to subsidize lower-cost connections to their services (especially Google). I already co-op with a half dozen of my neighbors to share our Internet bandwidth through WiFi. I don't charge for access, the router is open to all, but it does have a landing page that requests that they pay for what they use. So far our bill is paid about 8 months into the future.

    In our neighborhood we already have 4 high speed internet providers, so competition is fierce but pricing is still fairly high due to local government idiocy (they want all the providers to pay a fee to be allowed to serve the area). We even have 2 medium-speed wireless providers who serve our area too, but they're also a bit expensive due to the village fees (how would the village stop them, though?)

    This is the right step in the direction of providing inexpensive or free bandwidth to everyone. We don't need cities or governments paying for it, we just need the end profit-makers to subsidize the initial cost. Our connection should happily support 50 households (or more) for basic Internet usage, and if they want to use higher speed services, they're more than free to select from one of the providers available. For more, paying $5 a month for a decent 6 Mbps connection is well worth it, even if we frown on Bittorrent or other massive leach programs.

    I've already talked to 3 other people in my neighborhood who are interested in doing the same thing. The plus side is that we communicate better (through a private forum) with each other than I've ever seen in a neighborhood I've lived in. We talk about security issues, odd cars on the streets, and all sorts of issue that people used to think we needed government for.

    I really support these systems and would love to know if there is a way to privately sponsor some of these routers so that they're free, or even sponsor the bandwidth charges of people who offer this service to others through their own connection. Anyone know?
    • I looked into this a little bit for my apartment building. Every ISP in the area requires a "commercial-grade" connection for so many users. The cost is so astronomical that it's much cheaper for each of us to get separate service. ISPs in the NYC area don't like to give customers many options.
      • There are usually much smaller providers who will give you what you want. Also, if you incorporate the co-op as a business (very inexpensive in most areas), you'd be exactly the same as any business running multiple users. Our ISP knows fully what we're doing and they haven't complained yet, and we field all the tech support problems (at a cost, of course) that our neighbors have.

        We're also looking into some community social networking solutions for addressing concerns within our communities, something th
  • Legal can of worms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:16AM (#15612137) Homepage Journal
    When this is inevitably used by someone to do something illegal over someone else's connection and it gets traced back, I wonder how they'll work out who is responsible. It could be sort of hard to identify and sue/arrest the real culprit when the general public has tacit permission to wardrive at you.
    • If the company is choosing and configuring the routers it's possible they set each one to log connections. That way if they trace back to the router the router's logs will tell them the rest. I don't know of any routers that have enough storage capacity for such details and volume, but it's possible.
    • Unless routers are logging MAC addresses (which I don't think they do, I'm not certain) then without the computer that connected you can't say for sure who was connecting through this router.

      This isn't a bad thing. An extra layer of anonymity on the net might preserve it in its present state for a few more years.
      • Doesn't matter -- MAC addresses can be so easily spoofed that they're really not a good way to prove who was actually sitting at a terminal. I don't think it would take exactly a genius defense lawyer to destroy that argument in court. Any useful logging is going to be at the username/password level, since theoretically that has a 1:1 association with actual human beings.
    • by jonored ( 862908 )
      Hence the login, which includes paying if you aren't in the system, and which involves being a known person who is running their own AP if you are.

      Fon does handle accountability. It's not just "Hey! I've got an open access point here! Have fun!" it's "this is a node in the network managed by this company. You have identified yourself with this company, so you are allowed to use this node in exchange for whichever of these return services is most convenient for you."

      • An account with Fon isn't the same as a wire leading to your house. There is still a greater level of anonymity.
        • by jonored ( 862908 )
          An account with Fon either includes information about the wire going into your house to the router you are earning your pass with, or your billing information, both of which are pretty good at telling who you are.
          • An account with Fon either includes information about the wire going into your house to the router you are earning your pass with, or your billing information, both of which are pretty good at telling who you are.

            Not all that good, even nowadays. A friend of mine had his home phone listed under the name "Mike Ockhurts" for years, my late grandfather is still officially paying my water bill 20 years after his death because the local water authority wants a large pile of money to close the account and reopen

  • What if (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Life700MB ( 930032 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:18AM (#15612146)

    What if someone uses your 5 euros ( = 6.5 bucks) subsidized router to download kiddie porn, send hate mail to CmdrTaco or skype Bin Laden?

    What do the European laws say about that?

    Superb hosting [] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, php, mysql, ssh, $7.95
  • Not a good idea... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RemovableBait ( 885871 ) * <slashdot@blocBOY ... minus berry> on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15612192) Homepage
    I like the concept, but I don't think the whole thing has been thought out properly.

    In order to safely share your connection, you'd need to make sure that the FON registration process can keep good records of the Fonero users, and that the firmware is able to filter and block access to inappropriate/illegal content (and I'm not convinced it can). Otherwise, users can anonymously use your connection for looking up kiddie porn... which your ISP will have something to say about if it is traced. You'd also have to daisy-chain routers together or somehow segregate this from your internal LAN, which is probably more expense/trouble than it's worth.

    Add to this the fact that most ISPs frown heavily on you setting up a public access hotspot with a residential broadband connection (It's against the ToS of mine), and this 5/$5 router becomes more trouble than it's worth.

    The only major benefit that I can see is the cheap router. In the UK, a WRT54GL is around £50 (or 70), whereas FON will sell you one for 50 (assuming you just pay the surcharge for not registering) which is just £35.
    • From the last sentence of the article... "The reality is that we are all talking with... many of the large ISPs in the United States."

      I.E. They realize this is one of the major hurdles, and hope that the ISPs will allow users to do this. The theory is that it adds value to the ISP's services offered. Maybe one family can't afford broadband, but two families can afford to share it. But the real use of this service seems to be for roaming about with a laptop or something... you'll have access to a hots
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:29AM (#15612194) Homepage Journal
    It's the 12 month thing here, I think anyone who gets one should do an analysis on the loss of bandwidth cost vs the savings made over the 12 months. I would think that for occasional users or families who do not use the internet that much but require networks in order to use computers in different parts of their home then it may be a good deal, but for the typical Slashdot user or anyone who uses the internet heavily then their long term usage may end up being impeaded by other users accessing it. It really depends on what the buyer is using the router for.
    • My mother leaves in what was my home (before I moved to UK). She has a 512 DSL connection that we use every now and then with Skype. We also use it to download some BIG torrents (when I am at Mexico) without fear :-)

      But aside from that the connections is sitting there 24/7 and she pays something like $40 a month (I do not know if that is the price now, although I believe it was like that 1 year go, but with Telmex you can bet it is more now).

      If I had the oportunity to share my connection and charge someting
  • I wonder. Around here, (formerly) SBC DSL is pretty common (2/3 of broadband is local CATV, 1/3 SBC). A goodly percentage of the SBC users have a 2WIRE wireless router on the air. Moderately unfortunately (for my uses, good for SBC), the 2WIRE system takes users through a wizard that pretty much enforces WEP.

    I'm wondering, could SBC/ATT offer such a service in just about no time, using their installed base? Particularly when I use an external antenna, I pick up 2WIRE boxes everywhere. While I doubt the
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by archon.white ( 985293 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:36AM (#15612238)
    I think most people on here are missing the whole point of these things. Sure you get a $5 router (plus shipping) but that's not the real great part of this company's idea. If you want a cheap access point go to Wal-Mart, if you want free wi-fi wherever you go just go to... uhh wait that doesn't exist yet! At least in my area if you want any wi-fi you have to go to some coffee shop or park in a motel parking lot. The great idea behind this is that you will be able to have free access to all the wireless hotspots you could imagine if people will do this. My router has already been ordered and I've passed their website along to all my friends and relatives hoping that we can help in this great idea.

    As to those of you who are worried about reselling our ISP's internet, it's FON's access point so it's not actually your problem. Besides as long as you don't have AT&T what are ya worried about?
  • Here's a clue - it would probably be best not to call people who you'd like to pay you money "Aliens". Some people might find that a little off-putting. I thought for a moment they were calling Bill and Linus aliens, which, now that I think about it, makes a scary kind of sense.
  • Mugh?! What's to stop some mischievous oik from hooking up this wonder-router to a box of their choice and arbitrarily siphoning off the fresh packets? Or altering their contents? Or shoving a ruddy transparent proxy that redirects everything to Goatse in the way? Unless there's VPN between user and FON, there's fair scope for naughtiness here.
  • I'd get money for having people use my WiFi, then use one of the millions open APs when I go roaming...

    Quite seriously, the amount of non-secured APs around my apartment is kinda scary. Then again, I couldn't afford my bandwidth if they didn't exist...
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:47AM (#15612300)
    I live in a small town in which almost no matter where I go, there's an open WAP somewhere. Sometimes it's the official free city wireless network, but just as often, it's a private person's wide open router. I haven't paid for personal Internet service in a year or so now, and it's only getting easy (Win XP makes it ridiculously simple).
  • Real Communism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:49AM (#15612310) Homepage Journal
    What stops you from reflashing the $5 router with Linux [] and blowing off the contract terms that require you to share it? The contract, sure, but are they really going to sue people, and blow all the "goodwill" they're generating, converting it to "illwill"?

    I remember eMachines tried something similar, free/cheap PCs in the 1990s bubble, subsidized by ads around the outer margin of the screen. They sank and wound up selling the PCs for $100 to anyone who'd pay, and just letting those who wouldn't pay keep them without making too much noise about it.
    • Re:Real Communism (Score:3, Informative)

      by MbM ( 7065 )
      There's a small heartbeat program that basically calls home confirming that you're still running the firmware.
  • by dizzy8578 ( 106660 ) * on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:51AM (#15612325)
    Try this one if you like a little more info. le27.html []

    And Google if you want more.

    The software is available for download if you already have a compatable router.
    The $5 router is new but the warranty is null since the firmware is flashed with the FON version.

    The firmware can split your bw between two ssid's one for FON and the other for private. Since the routers listed can be used with linux in the first place, (even the low ram ones per a Slashdot story from the past) then it is a good guess as to what the firmware is based on.

    The router will indeed FON home (User>pass auth) and the interoperability and potential multipath routing seems inevitable when the density reaches a critical point in a particular area. (yes this is a guess rather than something in the site literature.)

    But it seems like a good deal with little risk to the hot spot provider. The basic access is tracked and limited to users by password whether Linuses, Bills or Aliens.

    ISP's who like to limit their users deserve to feel the slight pain of savvy users leaving for better ISP's.

    I intend to dedicate one of my public IP's to the system and my ISP does not give a rats patoot what I do with is as long as I pay my bill and abuse does not get any valid complaints. I moved from comcast long ago and since my qwest router is bridged from my isp, Qwest has no say in how my bandwidth is used either.

      Of course I live in a city where my wifi detector finds free open signals by the dozens at nearly every traffic light, I suspect some folks here will split off a portion of their BW if there is a potential of making a little money for their service.

    I will become a Linus just to help the concept of universal wi-fi along if only a little bit. I am going to upgrade my wifi net anyway once the N becomes semi standard so I will have 3 FON compat routers to share with the neighborhood while keeping my private network kinda tight.

    But go to the site and read for your self the details of the program. []

    Then make your own pithy comments here. :)

  • terms of service? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cbc1920 ( 730236 )
    Doesn't this violate most ISP's terms of service? I am sure that mine bars me from sharing freely with others, let alone for financial gain. For this to be perfectly legal, wouldn't you have to buy some sort of commercial-grade access? Are things different over in Europe?
  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:54AM (#15612341) Journal
    Where do I need net access the most?

    At home - OK, covered.

    In the car - Not often, but when I do I use cell phone GPRS via bluetooth to a laptop or PDA. Do I really want to be driving around to find a Fon hotspot (fuel costs and inconvenience) and how many will be on the side of motorways and main roads anyway?

    At airports - Yeah, right, the paid wifi service providers are really gonna let this happen. Stand by for clause changes in all shop leases to prevent them having a Fon router.

    At railway stations - See above.

    When I am walking through a shopping centre - Well, maybe (but not very often), but see airports.

    When I am walking through the suburbs - What, carrying a laptop or PDA out in the open? OK, maybe (but not often)

    Pubs and restaurants? Hmm - let's see... "...well Mr (or Ms) landlord; you can have a 'free-ish' router in return for a service elsewhere that might be handy to you once in a while (or will give you a small kickback) - OR you can spend some money on a 'proper' system with controlled access and we'll maintain it for you and split the profits..."

    So is Fon going to blanket cover massive swathes of the globe - nah, you'll end up with lots of little clusters and big gaps inbetween.

    Nice idea, happy to see it take off, but am very sceptical.
    • So is Fon going to blanket cover massive swathes of the globe - nah, you'll end up with lots of little clusters and big gaps inbetween.

      I agree, partially. I don't see Fon covering massive swaths of the globe by themselves, but I do see Fon and hundreds of other companies and organizations covering significant amounts and agreeing to share access with one another. I see Google taking a role in making this happen. How many citywide wireless projects are going on right now? I know there is a county wide one

  • by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:04AM (#15612403) Homepage Journal
    While the effort is worthwhile, and while it may be against just about everyone's ToS, it's still not worth it for the rural people. The closest metro area is 20 miles away, with the nearest village 4 miles away. This view [] shows my travel area (go to the 9th zoom in level..that's nine steps up from the bottom). Sure, there's lots around Cleveland (to which I haven't traveled in ~6 years), but barely any around Pittsburgh and north of it.
    FON just seems like it's going to be better for suburbanites or urbanites who regularly walk around their city, not for those who drive twenty minutes to get milk.
  • Liability? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Who would be liable for illegal downloads? You might be getting a $65 router for free but at the same time - you might end up with a huge hassle for usage.
    • Who would be liable for illegal downloads? You might be getting a $65 router for free but at the same time - you might end up with a huge hassle for usage.

      To my knowledge no one in the US has yet been sued for illegal downloading. Uploading on this device, however, might be a different issue. Still, there will be logs of who was connected via any given point, since this service requires a username and password. It just makes the subpoenas slow and hard to get. I wouldn't worry about this. There are much

  • by Another IT Grunt ( 981199 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:16AM (#15612480)
    If any of you slug's bring your wireless devices any where my coffie house i will have your arrested for stealing the customers from my business who sit in my parking lot and surf the net. Only coffie drinkers and guys who sit in trucks with a laptop are allowed near my wifi..
  • not so interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:17AM (#15612484)
    Unless they also happen to automatically configure themselves in relation to nearby fon routers and perform mesh routing. If it does that then we could eventually have a completely wireless network, independant of the traditional telecommunication companies.
  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:22AM (#15612514)
    "[Fon's] goal is to create Wi-Fi networks, street by street, across Europe and the US"

    Isn't a company called Linksys also doing something like this? They seem to have pretty good coverage these days, and they don't even require a login. I think they may be using a different network topology, though.
  • by LordJezo ( 596587 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @11:02AM (#15612735)
    I keep my WiFi locked down tight, when I'm not home I turn off the WiFi of my router and unscrew the antenna.


    I don't want to be sued. If someone jumps on my connection, gets a million mp3s, downloads movies, and shares copies of everything I'll have the MPAA and RIAA all over me. If they don't care when an old grandmother doesn't even have a computer or an internet connection they'll be sure to sue me who has both, even if it's not me getting the files.

    The USA is the most dangerous place in the world to have an open WiFi connection. This whole FON movement is just giving the lawyer wolves a whole new pack of clueless sheep to sue.
  • Is it worth it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danimrich ( 584138 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @04:31PM (#15615688) Homepage Journal
    Let me see...

    -download quota gets used up (as far as I see Fon doesn't have throttling mechanisms in place)
    -your connection being used for illegal stuff, such as
    --attacks on networks
    --child pron
    -legal action from your current provider

    +maybe you can use someone else's Fon hotspot
    +you will get (at most) $1 per day and user
    +a decent wireless router for 2/3 off (including shipping)

    Sorry, even though I'm living in a national capital with quite a few Fon hotspots around, the risks and associated costs (if I got sued I'd need to pay a lawyer, ...) outweigh the benefits of free wi-fi at some places or minimal revenue from a few users.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll