Martin Varsavsky has just blogged about FON's partnership with Google , Skype, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures as investors. FON is a startup, of which I'm on the board of advisors, that aims to put wireless internet everywhere by linking sharing and commercial installations. This investment will help get FON off to a strong start.
As Martin says,
[The investment gives FON] a strategic boost that should help us make this great idea into a great platform for everyone who wants a faster, cheaper and more secure wireless Internet. We'll invest this money in R&D so we can make it quicker and easier to become a FONERO and so that we can expand the number of things you can do with your FON service. Our goal, after all, isn't just to share bandwidth. It's to use the power of people to people networks to create a global wireless network.
I'm somewhat of a techie -- I built my own MythTV instead of buying a TiVo, I run the server this blog sits on (in my living room), and had my wifi shared already, on its own IP apart from my internal network (I'm pleased that my ISP, Speakeasy, [updated:] welcomes FON use). So what's new about FON? FON aims to make it easy for non-techies to join the wifi-sharing community too -- with FON-ready routers for sale and user-friendly installers coming soon, with security taken into account -- and by doing that, it gives all of us more places to connect. You can join as a "Linus," sharing wifi from your broadband connection and getting it free elsewhere on the network; as a "Bill," sharing wifi and getting paid for it (but paying if you want to use others' hotspots); or as an "Alien," paying a reasonable subscription fee to roam on the FON network.
FON is in beta right now -- or, to use a football analogy on this Super Bowl Sunday, we've scored the first touchdown but it's still early in the first quarter, and we've got a good playbook going forward. Techies can get the software up and running, but only as Linuses, so far; non-techies might want to buy a router or wait for the next revision. The Alien and Bill rollouts will come later, as the infrastructure is built out further. If we can get 3,000 Foneros in 3 months of alpha-stage, who knows how many might join the game as we move forward!