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FON Cuts A Cable Deal

Competition in the public WiFi business appears to be heating up now that cities across the nation are creating public areas (downtown districts, areas around convention centers and, in some cases, whole cities) where people can wirelessly Web surf free of charge. My colleague, Tech Columnist Rob Pegoraro, points out in his Fast Forward column from last week that area-wide WiFi services could open the broadband market and finally us choices that go beyond DSL and Cable.

A partnership announced yesterday between Time Warner Cable and European WiFi company FON offers a hint that competition is growing. The partnership allows Time Warner customers to become "FONeros," a marketing term for the customer who sets up a WiFi hot spot near his or her home using a two-channel FON router. Home users set up the router to create, on one of the channels, a secured wireless network for usage within the home. On the other channel, neighbors can tap into the public signal and surf away. Other FON members get to tap into the public signal for free; non-customers pay $3 - beating the cost of surfing over a T-Mobile Hot Spot at Starbucks.

Back in February, I posted a blog entry about FON targeting people who lived near a Starbucks and giving them a free ($30) router to create the wireless signal. At the time, I pointed out that this could pose a problem for new FON customers because most Internet Service Providers - companies such as Time Warner Cable - have strict rules about their customers sharing their Web connections.

Apparently, that's starting to change. Let's see if Comcast and the others follow.

By Sam Diaz  |  April 24, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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It's an interesting concept, but will it fly. I read that only some user routers can work with FON. Otherwise, you have to switch to their $39. router, which would be an impediment to many who like the service.

Posted by: Brad | April 24, 2007 10:11 AM

FON frequently offers inexpensive or even FREE routers. Many common routers (such as the Linksys WRT54G) are compatible with a firmware update, and I just recieved a new FON router free as part of a promotion FON was running (I bought my WRT54G router from them for $10 as another promotion)

Why not get the router from them anyways. You're going to want WiFi anyways, and now you have it anywhere another FON router is set up. (or you can make money if you're in an area where people are likely to use it.)

Posted by: Jaypoc | April 24, 2007 6:55 PM

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