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Former WNN staffer Nancy Gohring writes about the European group Fon, which aims to spread grassroots Wi-Fi roaming: The Fon system requires the use of a Linksys gateway with new firmware they provide; they’ll offer the firmware for other gateways in the future. Fon has an eco-system of Bills, who charge for hotspot access; Linuses, who offer it for free; and Aliens, who pay to use hotspots. Linuses get free access on the Fon network, no matter what kind of hotspot, because they’re offering free service.
The idea is quite similar to the original business models of both Sputnik and SOHOWireless, and the failed Joltage (second item on linked page). All three firms tried to build grassroots or community-organized hotspot networks that would rapidly expand. They suffered from a lack of hardware and a lack of momentum. In an era when any dense neighborhood has plenty of accidentally public networks and purposely free ones, Fon may be already behind the time.
Posted by Glennf at December 2, 2005 4:40 AM
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