Open Wifi is certainly gaining momentum. An experienced Spanish/Argentinian entrepreneur, Martin Varsavsky, has started a new kind of telecom company: one that embraces the municipal Wifi movement instead of fighting it. The idea behind FON is to turn people’s ADSL and cable connections into basestations also accessible to other FON subscribers. Those who offer their broadband to others get access to all FON access points, those who don’t can purchase a FON subscription.
FON is based on the premise that with wifi now being 54MB on cable and DSL platforms of 1MB or more that wifi users are only taking advantage of 3% of their capacity on the average or in other words wasting 97% of their capacity. At the same time what users want is for their laptops, PDAs, wifi phones, and soon wifi enable ipods, wifi enable digital cameras to access to everyone else’s wifi so they can walk around cities taking pictures, listening to music, playing games on wifi playstations, etc. And this we accomplish by turning millions of wifi installations into a unified wifi FON network with a standard interface to accept all kind of wifi enabled devices.
(from martinvarsavsky.net via productdose.com)
The initiative is positioned as a ‘movement’ more than an enterprise, which is probably a good idea. FON needs some degree of grassroots cooperation for this, so a very corporate profile would be scaring people away. On the FON registration page they distinguish between 2 types of subscribers:
- BILL: (Bill Gates’ model: make money with your WiFi broadband connection by charging non-FON members that use it).
- LINUS: (Opensourcer model, share your WiFi broadband connection in exchange for using the WiFi of all the other FON members).
He certainly gets the way marketing is done in these blog days:
But at least we won´t be broke idiots as it happened to many during the bubble as we are spending exactly O euros in advertising and very little on all the rest. In FON so far there´s a lot of talent among the people who work there, but no money spent on marketing. Blogging has turned the equation of being a big success or a big failure into being a small failure or a big success, I like this new risk profile and will do whatever I can to turn FON into a big success.
I’m interested to see where this is going!