Feeds

BT aims to make UK a Wi-Fi kibbutz

Hold the FON

Intelligent flash storage arrays

BT unveiled ambitious plans today to create the world's most extensive Wi-Fi network by persuading consumers to share access to their home router.

It's part of a move by the national telco to head off the rise of 3G mobile internet on the cheap via a Home Hub firmware update.

BT's three million Total Broadband customers will be asked to join a community developed by BT and FON, the wireless firm run by Argentinian billionaire Martin Varsavsky.

Membership will grant users access to BT Openzone hotspots, the 190,000 hotspots FON claims worldwide, and internet connections owned by other members for no extra charge.

If another of the 500,000 international "Foneros" accesses your Home Hub, they'll be allocated 512Kbit/s of downstream bandwidth. Any data the guest downloads won't count towards the owner's usage allowance. If, in turn, a Total Broadband punter uses FON out and about, it'll be recorded on their account. BT says it'll know who carried out any illegal activity and that access to the network will be secure.

BT's consumer chief Gavin Patterson said: "We have built a public Wi-Fi network and 12 Wireless Cities already, but today we are saying to customers, let's build a Wi-Fi community together, which covers everywhere and serves everyone."

It's the biggest ever deal for Madrid-based FON, which has been strongest in the Spanish, Japanese, and French markets. BT will have observed with interest as municipal Wi-Fi hit the buffers Stateside, and making its customers foot the bill for better coverage makes corporate sense. How FON's quid pro quo will go down with BT's customers is a different matter.

It's not an original idea, as we noted at last year's 3GSM conference in Barcelona. Joltage, a similar bandwidth-sharing utopia, lasted only a year.

However, as part of its arrangement with FON, BT has joined fellow comms big-hitters Google and Skype (the eBay-owned VoIPsters playing with a smaller bat these days) in investing in the firm, and taken a seat on the board. The brass tacks of the buy-in are being kept secret, but BT will be feeding some to FON.

Varsavky wrote: "It was amazing and refreshing to see how agile a telco giant could be in working with an innovative concept like the BT FON Community."

"Agile" BT's annual profits of £2.4bn make a gamble like FON a bet worth making.

BT's information page is here. Martin Varsavsky's musings on the deal are on his website here.

There's a glitzy party at the Tate Modern tonight to kick off the marketing push for what amounts to a hi-tech kibbutz. It's a strange world we live in these days. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.