Spanish Company Want to Unwire the World

A Spanish Internet company is selling a million
wireless Internet routers for just $5 each. But there’s a catch: Buyers
must share their wireless Internet connections with their friends,
neighbors, or even total strangers. It’s all part of a daring plan
to create a nationwide WiFi network on the cheap.

People who join FON (pronounced “phone") are
eligible to purchase a new wireless router for $5, plus an $8 shipping
fee. This router is programmed with software that lets other FON members
connect to the router for free Internet access. The router also protects
the owner’s privacy by blocking access to any other data on his home
computer network. If enough people join FON, they’ll create a nationwide
WiFi network, with free service to all FON members. The FON
features frequently updated maps showing where FON service is available.

FON has already signed up over 60,000 users, including
about 10,000 in the United States. But since standard WiFi routers
have a very short range — less than 300 feet — the company must deploy
millions of routers to create a truly comprehensive network.

from the Boston Globe

FON homepage (you can sign up NOW!)

Could this possibly work? It would be a paradigm
busting bucket of cold water in the faces of the desperate telecom
giants who are feverishly selling our collective communicative souls
to Homeland Security for the right to be
of the Internet of the Future.

Obviously, there will be problems with the FON
plan. Most WIFI users recognize that without some McGyvered antenna,
in a
landscape, effective reception is considerably less than a football
field (300 ft.) User density would have to be pretty high to create
any kind of contiguous coverage, even in high-tech cities.

But imagine if it works! Within our limited understanding
of the technical aspects of, well, anything technological, we imagine
it would work like the Media Lab’s much hyped $100 laptops, except
instead of unwiring a third world village, FON is attempting to unwire
entire global village, at $5 a pop.

If nothing else, give these guys points for chutzpah.
And stay tuned…..

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