|Headquarters||Alcobendas, Community of Madrid, Spain|
|Key people||Martín Varsavsky, Founder & CEO|
|Products||Fonera WiFi Routers|
Fon (Fon Wireless Ltd.) is a company that operates a system of dual access wireless networks. Fon claims to have the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with over eight million hotspots as at July 2013.
Members, whom the company calls "Foneros", agree to share a part of their bandwidth as a Wi-Fi signal, so that they can connect to other members' hotspots.
Consumers who choose not to share their Internet connection can buy Wi-Fi access passes or credit from Fon. Fon members whose hotspots are used to access Wi-Fi by a paying customer can receive part of the revenue.
Fon Wireless Ltd. is a for-profit company incorporated and registered in the United Kingdom. It was created in Madrid, Spain, by Martín Varsavsky where it headquarters most of its operations. Fon also has subsidiaries and branch offices in the USA, UK, Brazil, France, Germany and Japan. Its investors include Atomico Ventures, Google, Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Skype.
To become a Fon member (Fonero) and join the Fon community, one must own a Fonera router or a router with the Fon software built in. This enables users to share a portion of their Wi-Fi bandwidth, and in exchange get the right to use other members' Fon Spots.
Types of Fon membership
Fon has three levels of membership explained below. However, not all levels are available in all countries. Especially in countries where Fon has partnered with the country's national telecoms provider (e.g. BT in the UK) the Bill profit sharing level is no longer available to new users. In early 2013 Fon partnered with Deutsche Telekom and 'Bills' are no longer available.
These levels are:
- Linus: (named for Linus Torvalds, founder of the Linux project): has a Fonera router, shares Wi-Fi and gets free roaming at others' Fon Spots.
- Bill: (named for Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft): has a Fonera router, shares Wi-Fi, gets free roaming at any Fon Spot, and can get 50% of the net revenues when a visitor purchases a Fon pass at their Fon Spot. (This feature is not currently available in Japan, Russia, Germany, or the United Kingdom).
- Alien: does not have a Fonera router and does not share broadband with the rest of the Fon community. Aliens have an active account with Fon, receive community information and access Wi-Fi at Fon Spots by purchasing Fon passes.
A non-member, termed an Alien, is anyone who connects to a Fon Spot but does not share their Internet access at home or other location. This kind of user may purchase daily access passes to use the Fon network.
Access passes can be bought directly from the access point's portal page; it is also possible to register with Fon from that page. Passes can also be pre-purchased and used at a later date. In Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States it is also possible to buy passes by sending a text message from a mobile phone.
Users can also get 10 minutes of free Wi-Fi to any Fon Spot by clicking on a Fon promotional video. This is limited to one free 10 minute access per day, per user and device. Users can not disable the free 10 minute access period, for which they are paid $0.08 or 0.05€.
Hardware and firmware
Fon started using the OpenWRT base as firmware base for Fon branded routers. The firmware has been customised specifically for use in the Fon Community, allowing consumers to share their broadband connection and to connect to other Fon Spots around the world.
Fon developed a number of their own products:
- Fonera SIMPL Wireless Router
- Fonera 2.0n Smart WiFi Router
- Fonera 2.0g Smart WiFi Router
- Fonera+ Wireless Router
- Fonera Wireless Router
- Fontenna WiFi Antenna
Fon firmware creates two different Wi-Fi signals: one private and one public.
- Private ('MYPLACE') : encrypted and intended for the owner's private use. Only the Fon Spot owner can access the internal network, computers and files.
- Public ('FON_FREE_INTERNET'): un-encrypted or open, but username and password protected so allowing only registered Fon users to access the Fon Wi-Fi community network, but they cannot access the consumer's private network.
BT Fon Community
BT Group (formerly known as British Telecom) is the first and largest Fon collaboration. On October 4, 2007, Fon and BT announced that they had jointly created the BT Fon Community by flashing Fon's software on all BT Total Broadband Wi-Fi routers in the UK. This allows BT Total Broadband customers to participate in the FON community without buying a Fonera and in some cases (where the customer has since replaced the BT Hardware after creating the BTFon account) without sharing their own WiFi. Since March 2007 BT has supplied it customers with routers that already have FON software preinstalled and enabled offering an opt out service, although recent changes are seeing the service (along with the BT OpenZone brand) being rebranded to the unified service of BTWiFi.
ZON is the leading cable provider in Portugal. ZON partnered with Fon in 2008 to create ZON@FON, the largest Wi-Fi network in Portugal. Fon technology is built into ZON routers so its subscribers become part of the Fon community automatically.
Belgacom, Belgium's biggest telecommunications company, joined the Fon network in November 2011. Belgacom added Fon's WiFi-sharing technology to its BBox2 modem earlier in 2011, making it possible to broadcast two WiFi signals from a broadband internet source. One signal is encrypted and private. The other signal is public but only accessible via password. Membership is automatically activated (opt-out).
New partnership with Deutsche Telekom announced in March 2013 to take effect later in the year.
- "Fon announces next generation Fonera Simpl with EAP optimized for mobile devices" (Press release). Fon. Business Wire. 26 February 2012.
- Enjoy Fon at 7 Million Hotspots Around the World
- Fon - "Investors"
- . Fon https://www.facebook.com/fon.wifi. Retrieved 1 May 2013. Missing or empty
- Money making WiFi, Fon - Money Making WiFi
- What is a Fonero, Linus, Bill, Alien?, Fon FAQ.
- Fon - Safe and Secure
- "BT and Fon launch the world's largest Wi-Fi community". BTFon. 2007-10-04.
- "BT and Fon launch the world's largest Wi-Fi community". BTFon. 2013-05-30.
- "I can see BT Openzone, BT Fon and BT Wi-fi as available networks. Which should I use?". BTFon. 2013-05-30.
- Kirstin Ridley (2007-10-04). "BT links up with Fon for 'people's' Wi-Fi network". Reuters.
- Fon and Zon launch the ZON@FON WiFi Community in Portugal, Martinvarsavsky.net.
- KPN biedt wereldwijd publiek WiFi netwerk via samenwerking met Fon, kpn.com.
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