The Spanish company FON imagines a world in which users want to share their Internet connection like good Samaritans, in exchange for a certain financial compensation or to be able to do the same thing (to be connected free) everywhere.
The business plan is based on this idea: any user with wireless Internet installed at home shares their Wi-Fi connection with the other members of the FON community, who don’t pay for being connected at the point of domestic connection created by the user, and with users that aren’t a part of the community.
In the latter case, the user would receive a percentage of the money paid by those who connect through his router. The only thing needed to join FON is a wireless router compatible with the FON, or to be done with the teams that sells the company through its web page. The FONeros can be Linus, Alien or Bill:
- Linus: users that share their home Wi-Fi and, in exchange, they can be connected free from any point of FON access in the world.
- Aliens: alien users to the service are charged 3 euros for a daily pass to access to the FON community.
- Bills: those who prefer to gain money sharing their connection Wi-Fi; instead of free access anywhere, they obtain 50% of what the Aliens pay for their access.
The businessman Martin Varsavsky (founder of Spanish-based Ya.com and Jazztel, among other firms) is the driving force of the project, founded in September of 2005.
FON obtained Silicon Valley venture capital (Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures), as well as from two of the most important companies of the Internet, Skype and Google.
- Benefits of FON: a revolutionary and boundary-busting idea, it is consistent with sowing the planet with free admission points to the Internet, an enticing scenario for the legion of backpack travelers and low fare airlines at the ready.
- Drawbacks: sharing a home connection would be a more popular practice if it were encouraged by the operators (who oppose it more or less openly, mostly, to a project that they consider parasitic and illegal) if not for the low quality of many connections.
That said, how do you explain to a user that they have to share voluntarily their already, in and of itself, deficient Internet connection?