Feeds

Wi-Fi service breaches ISP conditions

Fon and games

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A router designed to share broadband internet connections with third parties appears to break the terms and conditions of seven of the top 10 UK internet service providers.

Fon.com offers Wi-Fi routers for as little as €5 and encourages connection sharing in a bid to build a Wi-Fi community, but its policies could put users at odds with their providers.

OUT-LAW has examined the terms and conditions of the 10 biggest UK ISPs as rated by research firm Point Topic. Only two of the ISPs, Blueyonder from Telewest and Orange Broadband, do not ban the sharing of a connection with third parties.

Seven of the ISPs, including BT, NTL and Tiscali, ban connection sharing explicitly. One ISP, AOL, bans sharing but only if the access is sold. Fon does encourage users to charge for access.

The Fon system is designed to create an informal network of users. If you buy a Fon router you receive a username and password. If you have a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and come into range of another Fon router you can sign on with your Fon username and password and use that internet access. If you share your Wi-Fi for free at your own home then you can use any Fon connection for free. If you don't share your own access you can use any other Fon point for €3 per day, according to Fon. If you decline the right to have free roaming access you can share 50 per cent of the revenue generated by charging that €3 a day for your access.

Though individual ISP policies tend to forbid sharing, Tim Snape of Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says that the idea is a good one. "It sounds like a really good thing to do," he said. "Anything that makes it easier for the consumer to get the benefit of the internet is a good thing. There are negatives that need to be addressed but our thinking is that it is good for the consumer."

"If it is being used for normal use, browsing a few websites, a bit of email, then the amount of traffic is so negligible it's not an issue," said Snape. "But if it's being used to download thousands of CDs then that is an issue but that would apply if it was an individual who wasn't sharing it. It's abuse that ISPs don't like."

A major concern for Wi-Fi users who share a connection is what the connection is used for. Should a third party use the connection for illegal activities, an investigation would lead to the address of the person whose network was shared.

In Fon's case, though, each user must already be a Fon subscriber and must sign in to use the network, meaning that everyone using the network can be identified. "What Fon are doing seems to be the right thing," said Snape. "The key to resolving this problem is being able to identify the users." Fon did not comment when contacted by OUT-LAW.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box
Only 250th most powerful in the world? Bring back Michael Fish
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
IBM, backing away from hardware? NEVER!
Don't be so sure, so-surers
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.