Funds for Fon

Google and Skype have joined an international consortium that is investing €18m to build the world’s largest Wi-Fi network.


Internet titans Google and Skype have joined an international consortium that is investing €18m into Spanish start-up Fon to build the world’s largest Wi-Fi network with a million hotspots by 2010.



Likened to file-sharing service Napster, Fon invites members, dubbed ‘Foneros’, to share their own private Wi-Fi signal with others with the aim of building seamless coverage without dedicated hardware.



Users subscribe to a level of service, the amount of bandwith they offer to other users being rewarded with appropriate benefits. ‘Linus’ users share up to 50 per cent of their bandwidth with other Foneros free of charge, and in exchange can use the signal of Linus subscribers. ‘Bills’ charge other users for their bandwidth and are in turn charged by others. ‘Aliens’ are non-subscribers who want to use the service and must pay a fee, providing a revenue stream for the company.



Fon’s proposal stands to fall foul of most Internet Service Provider’s terms, but it hopes to get past this by sharing revenues with the ISPs.



The company is aiming to get a million hotspots up and running by the end of the year. Fon has already attracted 3,000 subscribers in its three months of operation.