[Berlin-wireless] Fw: BT+FON, war:[wsfii-discuss] BBC: Sharing wireless may be the way to universal net access

Horst Krause offlinehorst
Mi Dez 5 19:48:14 CET 2007

hallo liste,

auch wenns für einige cross ist,
ich forwarde dies mal in die berliner-ML:
 * British Telco + Fon *

gruss horst_104.131.10.1
offlinehorst at web.de

Begin forwarded message:

Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2007 16:08:27 +0530
From: "ramnarayan.k at gmail.com" <ramnarayan.k at gmail.com>
To: Discuss list on the World Summit on Free Information Infrastructure <wsfii-discuss at lists.okfn.org>,  AirJaldi Summit List <summit at lists.airjaldi.com>
Subject: [wsfii-discuss] BBC: Sharing wireless may be the way to universal net access

The world seems to be waking up a bit

Share and share alike
Sharing wireless may be the way to universal net access, says Bill Thompson.


Laptop users
Will communal wi-fi spark a revolution?

The advertising campaign for BT's home broadband service features a nice 
modern family, with a woman and her two adolescent children living with 
her new partner.

They have been using them for a while, and like many other families they 
are gradually moving up the curve of technology adoption and are now 
happily embracing wireless, online backup and even TV over the internet.

They may be forced to call for technical support this week, however, as 
BT has just announced that it is asking every one of its three million 
broadband customers to share part of their wi-fi bandwidth by joining 
the FON community, and explaining this to the mass market could be a bit 
of a challenge.

FON users, or "Foneros" as they like to be called, share their bandwidth 
with other people, either by using a special wireless router provided by 
Fon or by installing special software on other brands of router.

FON-enabled routers have two separate wi-fi channels, creating a secure 
private channel for the owner to use and a 512kpbs open shared channel 
that other people can connect to.

The secure channel is totally separate from the public one, so that home 
networks aren't exposed to hackers.

Free access

Subscribers get free access to the shared channel, while non-users or 
"Aliens" can buy a daily pass.

Bill Thompson
It's even legal, so there will be no need to hide in your car and 
pretend that you're not really reading your e-mail from someone's open 
wireless connection
Bill Thompson

Wi-fi sharing plan launched

The money goes to the organisation, although Foneros can get a small cut 
depending on whether they see themselves as public-spirited "Linuses" or 
revenue-generating "Bills"" - named after Linux creator Linus Torvalds 
and Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Our fictional family is going to have to decide which of the two icons 
of the network age they feel most sympathy with, and configure their new 
FON-enabled router to offer wireless access to passers-by.

It will certainly be a challenge for the copywriters at BT's advertising 
agency, who will need to explain why the firmware on the Total Broadband 
routers has been updated and what the new service actually involves in a 
30-second TV spot.

But it seems to be a pretty good move for BT, and other ISPs may well 
decide to sign up too if it takes off as predicted.

Offering your customers unlimited free access to three million wifi 
hotspots around the UK, and millions more around the world, is a pretty 
good deal.

And it's even legal, so there will be no need to hide in your car and 
pretend that you're not really reading your e-mail from someone's open 
wireless connection.

Several fortunes

FON was set up by Spanish telecoms entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky back in 

Having made several fortunes from companies like Viatel, Jazztel and 
Ya.com, FON combined his long-term interest in open source and free 
software with his telecoms expertise, providing a community-based 
solution to the problem of finding open wireless connections when away 
from home.

When it launched late in 2005 I described it as "an interesting idea, 
fatally flawed by the terms of use of most internet service providers 
which seem to make it a breach of contract to install the software", but 
of course Mr Varsavsky was in this for the long term and has managed to 
keep most of his Foneros out of trouble by appealing to the more 
technically proficient geeky early adopters while negotiating with ISPs 
to roll out the service more widely.

There's certainly a real need for open, accessible wireless connectivity.

On my way to Geneva from London's City airport last week I tried to read 
my e-mail, but found that the month of wireless connectivity I'd 
expensively acquired from T-Mobile would not let me roam onto the 
network provided at the airport, so if I wanted to surf the web or catch 
up on work I'd have to pay another 10 pounds.

This experience is both common and frustrating, as airports and also 
hotels seem to see network access as a way to gouge money out of customers.

Public provision

Hotels, used to raking in money for phone calls, charge over the odds 
for net access because they assume that business users will just claim 
the cost on expenses and those paying their own way will be so desperate 
that, as with the minibar, they'll pay what is asked.

Public provision has varying degrees of success. In the US large-scale 
public wireless projects have been falling apart under political 
pressure, although over here cities like London, Norwich and Manchester 
seem to have more success, perhaps because there is a stronger tradition 
of public provision of vital services - like health care - than in the US.

Services like FON, or the plan to add wireless transmitted to the bridge 
of Venice, offer another way, one that is driven by the community and 
rewards altruism with access, providing clear benefits to users and the 
wider world.

It undercuts the commercial offerings of cafes and hotels, but no 
business is guaranteed unfettered access to the market - ask the music 

And if all of us currently paying monthly rates to have our home 
broadband access lie unused for hours a day can make it easily and 
securely available to other members of the community, why shouldn't we?

Bill Thompson is an independent journalist and regular commentator on 
the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet.

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