Maybe If We're Cheap Enough, No One Will Notice We're Breaking Everyone's Terms Of Service

from the now,-there's-a-strategy dept

We've never quite understood the strategy of the ridiculously hyped up "Fon". It's a pure gimmick with a ton of problems that are likely to block it from ever being successful. Basically, the company wants people to offer up their home WiFi for sharing as a network. There are different plans if you share your own home WiFi or offer it for a fee (and that, in turn, determines whether you get to use others' access points for free or for a fee). Among the many problems is the idea that you can actually get near ubiquitous coverage from just random home users. How many people are really going to jump on board? It's going to take an awful lot -- and even then the dead spots may be a problem. At the same time, with the "fee/free" alternatives, the business model makes almost no sense. If people share, they won't pay, and how many people actually pay for WiFi access these days? Fewer and fewer, especially as alternatives keep popping up. However, the biggest roadblock has always been the fact that most ISPs forbid any kind of sharing of their connection. While Fon keeps saying that it will convince ISPs otherwise, not many seem to be excited about this sort of thing. Yet, they keep pushing forward, and the latest is a plan to offer a heavily subsidized WiFi router for $5 to anyone who agrees to share their connection -- again, pretty much ignoring that almost no one is actually allowed to do so. Perhaps their strategy is to just throw away all the millions of dollars of VC money they've raised, and hope that as they're finally out of money, enough of these devices are out there that the ISPs really can't do anything about it and decide to cooperate. That seems like a stretch though, and it's surprising that some investors would bet over $20 million on such a risky strategy.

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  1. identicon
    JJ, 20 Sep 2006 @ 2:35am

    I don't get it

    Honestly, I don't get it. This seems like a really bad idea. They need a lot of people to sign up and even then its probably not enough. If they're giving away cheap routers at a loss, it sounds even worse.

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