Fon community embraces GSM
Hotspot network just waiting for an operator to call
Hotspot sharing community Fon has signed a deal with Ubiquisys to put GSM cells into Fon hotspots, just as soon as they can get a network operator to let them.
Fon users are already able to get internet connectivity via each other's hotspots, but the new agreement between Fon and Ubiquisys is intended to allow members of the community to share bandwidth for mobile telephony too, as long as the companies can get a network operator or two signed up.
The Fon service provides a Wi-Fi router that can be configured to share the available bandwidth with other Fon users, and in exchange the owner is allowed to use bandwidth offered by other members of the community. That got a whole lot more useful when BT Openzone joined, but the deal also allows BT to claim 120,000 hotspots across the UK and Ireland, even if most of them are hidden in suburban back rooms.
Ubiquisys knows a lot about femtocells (tiny GSM base stations) and certainly has the technical knowledge to build one into Fon's routers. This would enable members of the community to make phone calls over each other's broadband connections, but the deal needs network operators to sign up, and offer some incentive to use the service.
The only femtocell currently available in the UK is from Vodafone, which offers nothing in the way of incentive besides increased coverage. Calls and data routed over one's own broadband connection are also billed for by Vodafone at the usual rate, effectively making the punter pay twice. But that model's likely to change as femtocells get more ubiquitous and cheaper, and some competition enters the market.
If Fon can sign up an operator or two, and provide discounts on calls routed through the Fon community, then this could significantly increase network coverage. But without a network operator neither Fon nor Ubiquisys can deploy anything: the network operators own the frequencies, and they say what's allowed in their space. ®
Fon is BT....
I thought that BT bought into Fon? BT is one of 12 who have a lowpower 2g licence. The fact that finally a 2g femto is available is positve news.
Shouldn't this be 'Fon community embraces UMTS'?
I am not aware of Ubiquisys supporting GSM in their femtocells?
Checking the press release on the Ubiquisys site they only mention 3G femtocells - there is no mention of GSM.
Another dumb FON initative
As an Ex Fonero, it's just another example where FON are claiming publicity and the users pick up the bill.
When I joined FON it was simple, you used my hotspot, I used yours. Simple, easy and you didn't mind losing a bit of bandwidth now and again as you should pick it up when out.
It changed with the BTFon deal. BT paid FON money to co-brand it . BTFon lets anyone with BT broadband and a HomeHub can opt into the scheme. Thats fine, same as before. However if you don't have a HomeHub because they were only available to the option 3 customers for free for a long time and most other people bought a netgear/linksys/dlink box as they were cheaper, then that's fine too in BTFON land, they'll let you roam and when you get a homehub you'll be opted in.
Thats blatently onesided, it means anyone on BT broadband gets to use my Wifi but I can't share there's as the FON firmware won't work on anything other than specific routers, so the average netgear/linksys/dlink box just won't let you in. Oh and it won't work on BT Openzone, only the HomeHub places, so places like motorway services / airports etc where it may be useful won't work, as they are "premium hotspots". BT users can (and always have been able to) use Openzone as part of the BT contract, standard FON users get a payment screen. Hardly fair to people who signed up to share there broadband in exchange for something back.
And let's not forget as part of the BTFon Deal you can't buy cheap FON routers anymore if you have a UK address, the BT contract allegedly states they can't be discounted in the UK, and they cost £30, they also cost $30 or €30 elsewhere. Not a bad exchange rate for FON or BT.
This idea is the same. If I did this I'd pay for a FON Femto Cell, and the services (broadband connection and Power) and get very little back.
FON needs to re-think it's business model, or rather think if it has a viable one now.
Wifi is becoming free to all, it's free in most McD's now and many hotels, restaurants,pubs (Wetherspoons chain offer free wifi) and coffee shops offer it to get customers in, no-one is going to pay when they can use a free connection and sit in comfort with a coffee or a beer. Free Wifi is just another marketing tool to get people through the doors.
So what did I do? reflashed the router and gave up being a member. FON WAS a good idea, unfortunatly the money for getting in bed with the big boys has means the little guy has been left out, and most have walked away, Fon see one less fon spot on the map. But heck the check from BT cleared so no loss overall. But then it is, less people are offering the connection, so less chance of using it, so less reason to sign up. It's not Wifi Everywhere as they say, it's wifi in back streets and housing estates, I've never once had a signal in a town centre where it might actually be useful.
Sorry but FON is a dead horse. Wifi is becoming free in many places as people expect it as a service, places it's not free are usually areas (like airports and hotels) where companies pick up the cost, elsewhere people fall back on mobile data, (3g, GRPS) it's not ideal but already paid for in your phone contract or Dongle bungle, so why pay again?