by Mike Masnick

Big Name Backers Add Money To Gimmicky WiFi Sharing Plan

from the but-will-it-work? dept

Back in November, we wrote about what seemed like a silly plan for getting people to share their WiFi by letting people choose whether they were more like Bill Gates or Linus Torvalds. The two plans meant that either you shared your WiFi for free and got access to others' for free -- or, you sold access to your WiFi and got a cut (but no free access yourself). The plan has a ton of problems with it that aren't hard to see. Similar things have been tried before a few times, and none got very far for very good reasons. First, and most importantly, nearly every ISP out there forbids you from sharing the connection. While the company claims it will convince ISPs that offering this service makes them more desirable, it seems unlikely that too many will buy into it. It's also worth noting that very few people actually have WiFi in what might be considered desirable locations. Also, if this plan actually catches on (which still seems unlikely), there will be an adverse selection problem. It's become quite clear by now that there's a very small percentage of people who will pay for WiFi, and only when there are no real alternatives. On top of that, anyone who seriously would use this service often enough to matter would obviously choose to be on the Linus plan -- thereby destroying what little business model this offering already had. Apparently, however, some big names disagree with our assessment. The offering, dubbed FON (which might get a lawsuit from Sprint, who used to trade under the ticker FON), has convinced some big names to hand over a bunch of cash. Both Google and Skype invested -- along with venture capitalists Sequoia (original investor in Google) and Index (original investor in Skype). Big names like that obviously grant the startup some credibility, but unless there's something more to the business plan, it's hard to see this going anywhere.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Claire Rand, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 5:06am

    No Subject Given

    this will be nuked by the 'need to identify people' i.e. various agencies who don't like the idea that just anyone can get online without it being easy to trace them....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Joe, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    Re: No Subject Given

    You do need to identify yourself to FON before you can access any of the access points. This is in principle no less secure than any hotspot type access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jimmy Bear Pearson, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 8:49am

    The idea has merit, but...

    Conceptually, I think the idea of fostering WiFi sharing is pretty good.

    I think significantly more information is needed to determine whether or not the FON implementation has any merit. I also think that WiFi security is still somewhat immature - lots of good ideas, some really good efforts, but nothing that is so strong that it would make me open up my wireless to others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 9:39am

    Re: The idea has merit, but...

    So what about going to a Hotel parking lot and surfing via WiFi? Does this mean that the ISP that provides service to the Hotel forbids them from sharing bandwidth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 11:00am

    No Subject Given

    i just hope that when im old i can say to my grand kids "i remember when we got our net from a cable coming out of the wall......and we paid for it! imagine that kids!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Koubat, Aug 27th, 2006 @ 3:44pm

    Not every WIFi user will be a fonero

    In fact, if there are one million people worldwide sharing their wifi with FON, there will probably be 100 million people using wifi internet access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.