Friday, February 10, 2006

Having some Wi-Fi FON ...

Well, if you're into nabbing free Wi-Fi from off of the street (and offering your own Wi-Fi connection in return as payment), the rapidly emerging FON Community may be what you're looking for. With big names like Esther Dyson on board, you may want to keep your eye on it.

Basically, you buy their FON Wi-Fi router for 25 bucks/euro, hook it up to your broadband, and go. The router comes with special firmware (that allows client applications to log into the router?); however, there is still no naming convention, at least according FON forum posters (which means, there is no way to know it's a FON connection unless somebody broadcasts "FON Wi-Fi" or something), so this is kinda strange (they really should just standardize it in the router .. "FON Spot" or something...).

This idea is good for a few reaons -- 1. Users can be tracked and held responsible for the content they surf/send/download, 2. it is the "give a penny, take a penny" mentality ... you know that anybody on your router is offering their connection like you, and 3. Aside from the 25 dollar "donation" fee for the router, it's FREE.

Downside is 1. Users can be tracked and held responsible for the content they surf/send/download (it's always a 2-way street with this), 2. not sure how useful it's gonna be ... walking around some neighborshood to get Wi-Fi seems cheesy, especially when I can get it at Starbucks or some other corresponding cafe for FREE, and I get a chair and table to boot!, and 3. You gotta share your connection (watch out for bandwidth hogs!).

The concept is good, but not sure how far it's gonna go ... there are already gangs and grips for free Wi-Fi communities out there (like CZFREE in the Czech Republic), or larger, well established pay communities like Boingo Wireless.

Whatever the case, good luck to FON!

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