Fon plan validated as BT signs up

James Middleton

October 4, 2007

2 Min Read
Fon plan validated as BT signs up

Spanish open wifi network Fon received a major seal of approval from the operator community on Thursday as UK incumbent BT joined forces with the maverick firm.

By partnering with Fon, BT brings a further 3 million broadband subscribers to join Fon’s existing user base of 500,000.

Anyone joining BT Fon will be able to use the existing 190,000 Fon hotspots across the world and all the new BT Fon hotspots free of charge. BT Fon users will also be able to hop onto BT’s 2,000 own Openzone hotspots across the UK. The 5,000 more that are shared with roaming partners are out of bounds apparently.

Fon’s ‘social routing’ business plan features Aliens, Linus’ and Bills. Linus users let other Fon subscribers access the internet over their wifi connection in exchange for free access on any other Fon hotspot around the world. Bills charge for access at their hotspots and share the revenues with Fon, while Aliens are basically roaming users that pay to access Fon hotspots.

The idea is to set up a massive wifi community, and BT’s inclusion goes some way to helping Fon realise that vision.

Initially, operators, including BT, were hostile to the Fon concept because it meant their broadband subscribers were sub letting bandwidth to other users. But some were more forward thinking. US cable broadband provider Time Warner signed a deal to allow subscribers to access the Fon network, and hotspot operator Boingo Wireless agreed a roaming deal with the provider.

Now BT has come around to the idea, in fact the incumbent has also been revealed as an investor in the operation, something which was long suspected. Other investors include Google and Skype.

Gavin Patterson, BT Group managing director, said, “We are giving our millions of Total Broadband customers a choice and an opportunity. If they are prepared to securely share a little of their broadband, they can share the broadband at hundreds of thousands of FON and BT Openzone hotspots today, without paying a penny.”

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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