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$5 Social Wi-Fi Router

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the tricksy-solution dept.


slashjunkie writes "BBC News is running a story about the Spanish firm Fon, selling subsidized Linksys WRT54GL Wi-Fi routers for $5, in exchange for the buyer agreeing to a 12 month contract of providing access to other Fon users within range. With the financial backing of Google and Skype, their goal is to create Wi-Fi networks, street by street, across Europe and the US. Buyers of the subsidized routers can classify themselves as 'Linuses', whereby they also get free access to all other Fon hotspots, or 'Bills', where they receive 50% of the revenue made by on-selling their Wi-Fi to other Fon users. 'Alien' users can buy 24-hour passes for 3 Euro. To deter misuse, all Fon users must identify themselves by a username and password before they can access the hotspot. As long as the owner's personal LAN is not accessible, this could be a good way to offset the costs of the average geek's bandwidth bill."

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So what? (4, Insightful)

denebian devil (944045) | about 8 years ago | (#15612073)

Routers are so cheap nowadays (I got my wifi router a few years ago for $25, and wired routers regularly go for $5 or $10), why would you want to get one just a tad bit cheaper for the "privilege" of sharing it with others?

Re:So what? (4, Informative)

dissolved (887190) | about 8 years ago | (#15612083)

They're not that cheap everywhere... check out eBuyer ( I paid about $80 or so for mine in the UK.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612084)

to put something such as dd-wrt on it, and get a really cheap descent wireless router? there are even hacks floating around for the keep-alive, so you do not have to pay them the additional charge for 'cheating'

Re:So what? (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | about 8 years ago | (#15612093)

Are those first hand or second routers?

Are they good quality routers that are under guarantee?

Many different things to consider other than just cost.

Re:So what? (4, Informative)

CrimsonScythe (876496) | about 8 years ago | (#15612116)

They are brand new Linksys WRT54GL or Buffalo WHRG54S routers, which means that they are good quality and fairly expensive units. I think this is a great idea.

Re:So what? (1)

bcat24 (914105) | about 8 years ago | (#15612154)

So do I. I'd kill for a $5 new WRT54GL.

Your target (5, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15612208)

The WRT54GL is in the mail. Your target is Steve Ballmer. Now GO!

Re:Your target (5, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | about 8 years ago | (#15612252)

Somewhere off in Redmond, a shot is fired. It narrowly misses Steve Ballmer, who grabs a chair to deflect it.
What will happen? Will bcat go down in legend as the glorious killer of Ballmer? Or will he suffer the wrath of Ballmer's WWE-style chair-throwing moves?
Will Steve f***ing kill Google? And most importantly, will bcat brick his new WRT54GL when he tries to reflash it?

Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

wiz31337 (154231) | about 8 years ago | (#15612098)

You make an excellent point! You spend $5 for the router, but lose your bandwidth by having to share it.

I thought most ISPs in Europe billed based on usage, if this is the case why would you want to share with anyone?

Re:So what? (1)

badfish99 (826052) | about 8 years ago | (#15612268)

Well, my ISP charges a flat rate.

My house is down a side street. No-one ever goes past it. I'm going to send off for one of these: $5 sounds like a great price and there's no-one who is ever likely to want to share it.

I bet the router never arrives, though. These people are bound to go bankrupt in the next few days.

Re:So what? (1)

MajinBlayze (942250) | about 8 years ago | (#15612328)

I bet the router never arrives, though. These people are bound to go bankrupt in the next few days.
backed by Google and Skype
Larry the cable guy:
I don't care who ya are, that's funny right there

Re:So what? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 8 years ago | (#15612302)

I thought most ISPs in Europe billed based on usage,..

This is not the case in Scandinavia, I only know of a few ISPs that have transfer caps as well, with dialup connections you tend to have to pay by the minute though.. /Mikael

Re:So what? (2, Informative)

ronanbear (924575) | about 8 years ago | (#15612107)

Maybe you'd like the bit about how if you share your access for free you get access when roaming for free. Or maybe you'd prefer to get paid for sharing your access. The cheap router is only part of it. Having your connection slowed and people camped outside your house might be less desirable.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15612120)

Why would there be people camped outside your house if the whole point of the project is to get wi-fi coverage over very large areas?

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

shawb (16347) | about 8 years ago | (#15612111)

Because you also get the privelege of using the router of anyone else who has the service. Assuming wide enough adoption, this would mean you could use Wi-Fi pretty much anywhere. Not very useful for me right now as I don't have a laptop (and not to mention it's probably not widespread enough.) I can, however, see that in the future this would be extremely convienient. Especially if we are able to figure out an alternative I/O to the standard mouse/keyboard/screen model that would take up much smaller real estate than a laptop... basically access to the internet's information wherever you go. I can see why the company is trying to get entrenched in this business early... it will be the future of communications. The question is whether this particular company will be around long enough to reap the fruit of it's labor.

Re:So what? (2, Interesting)

akross (985298) | about 8 years ago | (#15612284)

I think something like this would be particularly useful for people who get the Opera browser for their DS. Wireless internet access in your pocket!

Re:So what? (1)

myspys (204685) | about 8 years ago | (#15612114)

it even gives you a reason in the SUMMARY/blurb

" or 'Bills', where they receive 50% of the revenue made by on-selling their Wi-Fi to other Fon users"

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

The Subliminal Kid (647767) | about 8 years ago | (#15612169)

Looks like Fon are trying to set up a social moverment rather than just another company. I shave to assume that the people who want to know why they should share their bandwidth are the same people who write code for Linux but don't publish it for fear that someone might benifit from their hardwork.

I don't really believe that the cost of the router is important to most people reading here, I suspect despite some people claiming to have bought their routers for thrupence hapney most ./ reader have >$100 worth of router at home.

Re:So what? (0, Redundant)

leuk_he (194174) | about 8 years ago | (#15612201)

Could i get one for 5$ and flash it to a orignal one?

Re:So what? (4, Informative)

fistfullast33l (819270) | about 8 years ago | (#15612258)

From their "shop" [] :

Remember that you must register your router and keep it on at all times. This great low price helps us build the FON Community. Therefore, we will apply a $/€ 45 surcharge on all routers that have not been registered within 30 days of having made the purchase

So if you buy the router and don't activate it, they'll charge you $45 or €45 depending on where you live? It isn't really clear which value they go by, but I imagine it depends on what currency you used to purchase it. Personally, I think it's better for them to charge a flat €45 since it's worth almost 1.5 times the dollar at this point.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612356)

why would you want to get one just a tad bit cheaper for the "privilege" of sharing it with others?

It's all about you, isn't it?

Fall down, go BOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612076)

Interesting idea but it has the smell of a dot com idea about it.

Re:Fall down, go BOOM! (1)

JPribe (946570) | about 8 years ago | (#15612079)

...not to mention a court room...

TOS (4, Informative)

ronanbear (924575) | about 8 years ago | (#15612078)

Most broadband providers specifically prohibit you from sharing your connection in this manner. If something like this were to become popular they'd just have to start clamping down on it.

Re:TOS (0, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | about 8 years ago | (#15612126)

Fuck em. If their business model is unsustainable, it's not the end-user's responsibility to prop it up.

Re:TOS (2, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15612145)

You're right. It's not the end-user's responsibility. It's their legal obligation based on the terms of service they agreed to.

Re:TOS (2, Informative)

bcat24 (914105) | about 8 years ago | (#15612166)

How is that insightful? If you don't like the ToS, that doesn't mean you can break them. And I really doubt you could find an affordable service provider that allows connection sharing.

Re:TOS (1)

GigsVT (208848) | about 8 years ago | (#15612216)

It's none of their fucking business where the bytes coming through your pipe originated from.

TOS or no TOS, they don't have the right to say what you can or can't do with your own network and equipment.

Re:TOS (2, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | about 8 years ago | (#15612255)

It's none of their fucking business where the bytes coming through your pipe originated from.It's none of their fucking business where the bytes coming through your pipe originated from.

Until it hits their pipe. If they don't like what you got going on, they drop you. The TOS is a declaration of resons why they would drop you, that's it.

So go ahead and build whatever network you want on your end - no ones stopping you, then have fun trying to find an outbound connection.

Re:TOS (1)

Dachannien (617929) | about 8 years ago | (#15612263)

TOS or no TOS, they don't have the right to say what you can or can't do with your own network and equipment.

Perhaps true, but that won't matter much when you discover that your network and equipment no longer have Internet access.

Re:TOS (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15612376)

We provide such a service in the UK, []
The price list on the website needs updating tho... Drop me a mail if your interested.
You can share your connection with as many people as you want, so long as your use of the line is legal. The only caveat is, if you sign up for a traffic-limited service (you dont have to, there are unlimited plans too) then your still responsible for the traffic usage, so don't let your neighbours push you over your quota.

Re:TOS (1)

ergo98 (9391) | about 8 years ago | (#15612280)

If their business model is unsustainable, it's not the end-user's responsibility to prop it up.

It is amazing how many stupid comments are made under Slashdot contain confused concepts of "business models".

Re:TOS (2, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | about 8 years ago | (#15612139)

Not to mention that WiFi isn't exactly the greatest medium for voice. I mean, you can only scale it back to 6Mbps. This is like using a sledgehammer to do dental work.

I often wonder if the industry is specifically thwarting efforts to develop a wireless voice transmission medium for the public masses to protect cellular interests. I'd really love to see a low latency, high distance, high concentration 128kbps wireless link. This would allow employers, residences and municpalities to replace cell phones, for the large part.

Can you imagine 20 users at a coffee shop trying to use WiFi voice at the same time?

Re:TOS (1)

bcat24 (914105) | about 8 years ago | (#15612174)

[nitpick]It's even worse than you think. 802.11b/g can go down to around 1 Mbps at minimum.[/nitpick]

Re:TOS (4, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | about 8 years ago | (#15612212)

Can you imagine 20 users at a coffee shop trying to use WiFi voice at the same time?

No probs. The 802.11a,b,g family has two different MAC schemes (the idea is stolen from Cable actually).

There is a random access scheme similar to the ancient ethernet. In that case 20 VOIP users will simply bring the link down by trying to access the media.

There is also a scheme under which the AP will transmit maps which tell each client when to transmit. I do not have the time to do the exact math at the time, but it should be possible to accommodate 20 VOIP clients using this MAC and leave some breathing space for normal access (not a lot though). The problem is that for this scheme to be usefull the clients must have means of getting reservations from the AP. Tough luck - no such clients out there. Similarly, the AP must have an integrated Layer2-Layer3 filtering mechanism which hooks up straight into MAC and creates transmit maps based on statefull filter context. Once again - tough luck. There is no such AP out there (AFAIK). On top of that while this is in the spec it is hardly in use anywhere so the level of testing clients have is very low. I would expect some of the more cheap and cheerfull clients which do MAC portions in software to be broken with regard to this.

Re:TOS (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 8 years ago | (#15612254)

Well, not being able to scale back below 6 Mbps isn't a bad thing. That means inherently more capacity (more users) IF the system is implemented right. Of course, for a small number of users per base station, a lower speed would be more appropriate to allow more independent base stations.

The problem is that WiFi's channel access scheme is designed for packet switched data that often comes in large bursts. Its CSMA/CA scheme is great for that, but is vastly inferior in terms of overhead to TDMA or CDMA schemes for multiple users who each only need a small fraction of capacity. To support VoIP well, WiFi really needs some sort of timeslot reservation scheme.

Re:TOS (4, Informative)

NekoXP (67564) | about 8 years ago | (#15612189)

Speakeasy ( encourage it though, which is ace.

Although I can't find the page which explains it outside of my account pages (needs login, sigh) you can resell your connection and also sell your neighbours all-new connections, using a plan they have in place.

This has been there for yeaaars.

Re:TOS (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | about 8 years ago | (#15612229)

Yep. Roadrunner does this. I could never and would never do this just to get a WRT54GL.

Re:TOS (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15612350)

And many don't prohibit you at all...
Maybe Fon can provide a list of such companies, and encourage their users to sign up with such ISPs...

Okay... I'll bite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612081)

Where do I get my subsidized router from? With my other WRT54G, I can just throttle the bandwidth on the Fon router and get me a nice new toy.

FIRST POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612085)


Re:FIRST POST (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612160)

VERY NICE.... Had to slam the ham a little...

Legality (2, Interesting)

lilrowdy18 (870767) | about 8 years ago | (#15612094)

I don't know about the rest of you but with Cox we can't share our Internet connection with other people in that manner. You would probably have to get some kind of agreement with your ISP before they would let you share your Internet connection for a profit.

shipping costs (2, Informative)

tmk (712144) | about 8 years ago | (#15612105)

In Germany the shipping costs 18 Euro - and the router is shipped in three weeks.

I'll take one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612109)

I'll take one and be glad to share. Given that the house sits 700 feet from the nearest road and 5 miles from the nearest town, it might not help the cause much, but what the heck.

Free Access if you're a FON member (1)

ccoder (468480) | about 8 years ago | (#15612115)

There is FREE access to the FON network if you've FON router?  I guess that article was all about paid stuff?

Share your WiFi and get free access in all Fon hotspots worldwide!

Milk your WiFi! Get paid for sharing your spare bandwidth.

Two different things.

5euros != Actual cost (3, Informative)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | about 8 years ago | (#15612119)

5e is not the actual cost that the router will cost to you. Besides 5e you have to pay postage and VAT, which in my case made the total cost near 26e. 26e is not that bad, but then again, with that money you can get an basic wireless access point. Thought, if you are moving a lot and need wireless access, then joining Fon would make some sense.

Compile farm (0, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 years ago | (#15612122)

This product seems like it might work well for a "compile farm starter kit", if you picked up a quad-pack.

But I can't find any mention on the linksys site about the RAM on these gadgets. Is it adequate?

Some gaming consoles might also do, but why feed either Empire?

Re:Compile farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612162)

IMO it still will be easier and faster to just use a cross compiler.

Re:Compile farm (1)

Emil Brink (69213) | about 8 years ago | (#15612177)

Uh? Aren't the routers ... well ... just routers? That is, not general-purpose computers, but little boxes specifically designed to do wlan routing? Like, for instance, the Netgear WGU624 [] ? I'm sure you could (for some values of "you" and "could") compile your own software on such a router, since they very probably do contain general-purpose processors, but still. It wouldn't be pleasant, and I really have a hard time thinking it would "work well" to build something as targeted at compilation as a compile farm. Maybe I missed your point, though.

Re:Compile farm (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | about 8 years ago | (#15612292)

The WRT54G runs Linux, so I'm sure that, given enough effort, people can do (and have done) all sorts of shit with it.

Re:Compile farm (1)

bcat24 (914105) | about 8 years ago | (#15612200)

Here's a detailed review [] that should tell you whatever you want to know about WRT54G(S) router models. The WRT54GL is the same as a WRT54Gv4, IIRC.

Interesting (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 8 years ago | (#15612123)

I have always wondered why no-one are doing this. I see many ISPs offering routers with wireless as a option.
The pricing model seems a bit optimistic if people live in a area that isn't likely to have many guests around.
I would rather do it the other way around saying that you pay full price for the line and then what you earn is subtracted from the line price first.

Linuses and Bills (5, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 8 years ago | (#15612124)

TFA forgets to mention that besides "Linuses" and "Bills" there are also "Jobs" users that have same connection speed like users above, but opted to pay twice as much.

Re:Linuses and Bills (5, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#15612156)

  • Richards allow you to subroute the connection even further, provided you do so in a manner not more restrictive than the one in which you connect;
  • Darls decide that they, in fact, own their next-door neighbour's connection and sue for it;
  • Theos provide a secure, audited connection, don't give a damn what you do with it, and jump down your throat if you can't work out how to use it, dumbass; and
  • Steves look at you sitting near their router, throw a chair out of the window, and threaten to fucking kill you.

Re:Linuses and Bills (4, Funny)

twosmokes (704364) | about 8 years ago | (#15612227)

I thought Steves were the ones who decide that the router would perform better if it were painted white and had more curves.

Re:Linuses and Bills (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15612241)

That's the other Steve.

Co-oping Internet networks the capitalist way (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | about 8 years ago | (#15612129)

This is a great idea, and one I think will gain a lot of strength as information providers find ways to subsidize lower-cost connections to their services (especially Google). I already co-op with a half dozen of my neighbors to share our Internet bandwidth through WiFi. I don't charge for access, the router is open to all, but it does have a landing page that requests that they pay for what they use. So far our bill is paid about 8 months into the future.

In our neighborhood we already have 4 high speed internet providers, so competition is fierce but pricing is still fairly high due to local government idiocy (they want all the providers to pay a fee to be allowed to serve the area). We even have 2 medium-speed wireless providers who serve our area too, but they're also a bit expensive due to the village fees (how would the village stop them, though?)

This is the right step in the direction of providing inexpensive or free bandwidth to everyone. We don't need cities or governments paying for it, we just need the end profit-makers to subsidize the initial cost. Our connection should happily support 50 households (or more) for basic Internet usage, and if they want to use higher speed services, they're more than free to select from one of the providers available. For more, paying $5 a month for a decent 6 Mbps connection is well worth it, even if we frown on Bittorrent or other massive leach programs.

I've already talked to 3 other people in my neighborhood who are interested in doing the same thing. The plus side is that we communicate better (through a private forum) with each other than I've ever seen in a neighborhood I've lived in. We talk about security issues, odd cars on the streets, and all sorts of issue that people used to think we needed government for.

I really support these systems and would love to know if there is a way to privately sponsor some of these routers so that they're free, or even sponsor the bandwidth charges of people who offer this service to others through their own connection. Anyone know?

Re:Co-oping Internet networks the capitalist way (1)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15612175)

I looked into this a little bit for my apartment building. Every ISP in the area requires a "commercial-grade" connection for so many users. The cost is so astronomical that it's much cheaper for each of us to get separate service. ISPs in the NYC area don't like to give customers many options.

Hidden message ? (0, Redundant)

alexhs (877055) | about 8 years ago | (#15612136)

Buyers of the subsidized routers can classify themselves as 'Linuses' , whereby they also get free access to all other Fon hotspots, or 'Bills' , where they receive 50% of the revenue made by on-selling their Wi-Fi to other Fon users.

Linuses Torvalds and Bills Gates ?
I'm sure there's some hidden message here, but I'm not sure what it means... :) And what about Steves (Jobs, not Ballmers) ? Is he behind the masked black alien face ?

Re:Hidden message ? (3, Informative)

Jeff Molby (906283) | about 8 years ago | (#15612171)

Umm, it's not hidden at all. 'Bills' want cash for any resources provided, just like Mr. Gates. 'Linuses' trade their resources for goodwill, just like our favorite champion of OSS.

Legal can of worms (2, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15612137)

When this is inevitably used by someone to do something illegal over someone else's connection and it gets traced back, I wonder how they'll work out who is responsible. It could be sort of hard to identify and sue/arrest the real culprit when the general public has tacit permission to wardrive at you.

Re:Legal can of worms (1)

truthsearch (249536) | about 8 years ago | (#15612195)

If the company is choosing and configuring the routers it's possible they set each one to log connections. That way if they trace back to the router the router's logs will tell them the rest. I don't know of any routers that have enough storage capacity for such details and volume, but it's possible.

Re:Legal can of worms (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | about 8 years ago | (#15612198)

Unless routers are logging MAC addresses (which I don't think they do, I'm not certain) then without the computer that connected you can't say for sure who was connecting through this router.

This isn't a bad thing. An extra layer of anonymity on the net might preserve it in its present state for a few more years.

Re:Legal can of worms (1)

jonored (862908) | about 8 years ago | (#15612330)

Sorry, but while Fon routers don't encrypt their wireless links, they do require a login in order to give you a link to the internet. You don't need to log MAC addresses, and that won't work - (macchanger lets you pick any random mac address you want, or just generates a random mac addy for you). You just need to log in with your account at Fon to use one of these routers, which identifies you quite well, and probably involves communicating with their servers, which certainly can keep logs.

Re:Legal can of worms (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15612369)

Doesn't matter -- MAC addresses can be so easily spoofed that they're really not a good way to prove who was actually sitting at a terminal. I don't think it would take exactly a genius defense lawyer to destroy that argument in court. Any useful logging is going to be at the username/password level, since theoretically that has a 1:1 association with actual human beings.

Re:Legal can of worms (2, Informative)

jonored (862908) | about 8 years ago | (#15612234)

Hence the login, which includes paying if you aren't in the system, and which involves being a known person who is running their own AP if you are.

Fon does handle accountability. It's not just "Hey! I've got an open access point here! Have fun!" it's "this is a node in the network managed by this company. You have identified yourself with this company, so you are allowed to use this node in exchange for whichever of these return services is most convenient for you."

Re:Legal can of worms (1)

damburger (981828) | about 8 years ago | (#15612315)

An account with Fon isn't the same as a wire leading to your house. There is still a greater level of anonymity.

Re:Legal can of worms (2, Insightful)

jonored (862908) | about 8 years ago | (#15612345)

An account with Fon either includes information about the wire going into your house to the router you are earning your pass with, or your billing information, both of which are pretty good at telling who you are.

What if (4, Insightful)

Life700MB (930032) | about 8 years ago | (#15612146)

What if someone uses your 5 euros ( = 6.5 bucks) subsidized router to download kiddie porn, send hate mail to CmdrTaco or skype Bin Laden?

What do the European laws say about that?

Superb hosting [] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, php, mysql, ssh, $7.95

Re:What if (5, Informative)

Library Spoff (582122) | about 8 years ago | (#15612161)

Having only quickly looked at the site this morning... They are either another member of FON, or have paid to use your connection. So surely it's the same if someone did those things at starbucks/McDonalds etc etc

Re:What if (4, Funny)

Aceticon (140883) | about 8 years ago | (#15612253)

Dunno about the rest, but around here sending hate e-mails to CmdrTaco is considered a social duty

Misuse (1, Insightful)

Claws Of Doom (721684) | about 8 years ago | (#15612278)

Read the introduction?

"To deter misuse, all Fon users must identify themselves by a username and password before they can access the hotspot."

I too have given up reading the articles. Perhaps I should follow your lead and give up on reading altogether. :)

Re:What if (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15612282)

We're not quite as bad as America here yet, so the police have to prove it was us. Having an open proxy and some idiot using it to do something illegal would leave no data on your own PC, so they';d take it and check it, lack of evidence would prove you innocent.

Gotcha (2, Funny)

mynickwastaken (690966) | about 8 years ago | (#15612311)

Obviously your name is Bush, isn't it?

bandwith bill reduction? (1)

yivi (236776) | about 8 years ago | (#15612172)

From TFS:
As long as the owner's personal LAN is not accessible, this could be a good way to offset the costs of the average geek's bandwidth bill
How would that be? You are supposed to share your Internet bandwith in order to gain access to other people's hot-spots. The idea, as I understand it, is that by sharing your home access you get access everywhere else where other FON users are available.

Am I getting it wrong?


Re:bandwith bill reduction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612223)

You just have to buy a $300 firewall to put between your home network and your $5 router.

Re:bandwith bill reduction? (1)

shawb (16347) | about 8 years ago | (#15612295)

The owner's personal LAN is different than owner's personal internet connection. This just means that there is a firewall between the FON part of the wireless network and the owner's personal wireless network so they can't access/snoop your personal information/traffic.

Not a good idea... (3, Insightful)

RemovableBait (885871) | about 8 years ago | (#15612192)

I like the concept, but I don't think the whole thing has been thought out properly.

In order to safely share your connection, you'd need to make sure that the FON registration process can keep good records of the Fonero users, and that the firmware is able to filter and block access to inappropriate/illegal content (and I'm not convinced it can). Otherwise, users can anonymously use your connection for looking up kiddie porn... which your ISP will have something to say about if it is traced. You'd also have to daisy-chain routers together or somehow segregate this from your internal LAN, which is probably more expense/trouble than it's worth.

Add to this the fact that most ISPs frown heavily on you setting up a public access hotspot with a residential broadband connection (It's against the ToS of mine), and this 5/$5 router becomes more trouble than it's worth.

The only major benefit that I can see is the cheap router. In the UK, a WRT54GL is around £50 (or 70), whereas FON will sell you one for 50 (assuming you just pay the surcharge for not registering) which is just £35.

Re:Not a good idea... (1)

shawb (16347) | about 8 years ago | (#15612319)

From the last sentence of the article... "The reality is that we are all talking with... many of the large ISPs in the United States."

I.E. They realize this is one of the major hurdles, and hope that the ISPs will allow users to do this. The theory is that it adds value to the ISP's services offered. Maybe one family can't afford broadband, but two families can afford to share it. But the real use of this service seems to be for roaming about with a laptop or something... you'll have access to a hotspot wherever there is a FON customer.

Re:Not a good idea... (1)

badfish99 (826052) | about 8 years ago | (#15612349)

On the other hand, a WRT54GL is not much use to most people in the UK unless you buy a separate ADSL modem, and you can get a combined ADSL modem and router for £50 or so. So you might as well buy that.

Hmmm (2, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | about 8 years ago | (#15612194)

It's the 12 month thing here, I think anyone who gets one should do an analysis on the loss of bandwidth cost vs the savings made over the 12 months. I would think that for occasional users or families who do not use the internet that much but require networks in order to use computers in different parts of their home then it may be a good deal, but for the typical Slashdot user or anyone who uses the internet heavily then their long term usage may end up being impeaded by other users accessing it. It really depends on what the buyer is using the router for.

My mother would use it (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 8 years ago | (#15612368)

My mother leaves in what was my home (before I moved to UK). She has a 512 DSL connection that we use every now and then with Skype. We also use it to download some BIG torrents (when I am at Mexico) without fear :-)

But aside from that the connections is sitting there 24/7 and she pays something like $40 a month (I do not know if that is the price now, although I believe it was like that 1 year go, but with Telmex you can bet it is more now).

If I had the oportunity to share my connection and charge someting I will setup the account for her immidiatley.

Point? (1)

Sunny7L (980920) | about 8 years ago | (#15612215)

Why let who knows how many people drag on your connection when the routers themselves are already cheap? Additionally, there are plenty free hotspots. Why should we build up some network that charges a fee?

If this was an effort to broaden free access nationwide that would be totally different. As it is it's about getting some company richer. I'll pass.

Hope that it kicks off in a big way (1)

shr1n1 (263515) | about 8 years ago | (#15612217)

I would say quite an innovative idea.

Here already telecoms are trying to block municipal Wi-FI and are ardent lobbyists against free for all Wi-Fi. Atleast this will bring ubiquitous Wi-Fi at reasonable cost to masses.

Hope that it really kicks off. I predict once this becomes widespread, telecom/cable companies will have another axe to grind.

How quickly could this rollout in the states? (1)

Average (648) | about 8 years ago | (#15612222)

I wonder. Around here, (formerly) SBC DSL is pretty common (2/3 of broadband is local CATV, 1/3 SBC). A goodly percentage of the SBC users have a 2WIRE wireless router on the air. Moderately unfortunately (for my uses, good for SBC), the 2WIRE system takes users through a wizard that pretty much enforces WEP.

I'm wondering, could SBC/ATT offer such a service in just about no time, using their installed base? Particularly when I use an external antenna, I pick up 2WIRE boxes everywhere. While I doubt they're as advanced as the Linksys routers, it seems like most of the authentication would be at the headend. Would be very valuable for mobile users, unlike the current SBC/ATT 'Freedomlink' Wifi, which is pretty costly (at least if you use their 'roaming partners') for usability in about 5 obscure spots in a big town.

Re:How quickly could this rollout in the states? (1)

archon.white (985293) | about 8 years ago | (#15612266)

I'm sure they could and then they could read all of your emails and get all of your credit card information and sell it to whoever they'd like (as of last week friday that is).

Re:How quickly could this rollout in the states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612269)

Moderately unfortunately (for my uses, good for SBC), the 2WIRE system takes users through a wizard that pretty much enforces WEP.

Oh Teh Noes, not WEP!

If you don't have the necessary tools to blow through that in about fifteen minutes, consider your geek card revoked - now turn in your pocket protector and hornrims. :D

Today's relevant captcha is "upload"

Missing the point (3, Interesting)

archon.white (985293) | about 8 years ago | (#15612238)

I think most people on here are missing the whole point of these things. Sure you get a $5 router (plus shipping) but that's not the real great part of this company's idea. If you want a cheap access point go to Wal-Mart, if you want free wi-fi wherever you go just go to... uhh wait that doesn't exist yet! At least in my area if you want any wi-fi you have to go to some coffee shop or park in a motel parking lot. The great idea behind this is that you will be able to have free access to all the wireless hotspots you could imagine if people will do this. My router has already been ordered and I've passed their website along to all my friends and relatives hoping that we can help in this great idea.

As to those of you who are worried about reselling our ISP's internet, it's FON's access point so it's not actually your problem. Besides as long as you don't have AT&T what are ya worried about?

Don't let the geeks do marketing (2, Funny)

LeastWorst (708565) | about 8 years ago | (#15612240)

Here's a clue - it would probably be best not to call people who you'd like to pay you money "Aliens". Some people might find that a little off-putting. I thought for a moment they were calling Bill and Linus aliens, which, now that I think about it, makes a scary kind of sense.

Privacy nightmare (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#15612246)

Mugh?! What's to stop some mischievous oik from hooking up this wonder-router to a box of their choice and arbitrarily siphoning off the fresh packets? Or altering their contents? Or shoving a ruddy transparent proxy that redirects everything to Goatse in the way? Unless there's VPN between user and FON, there's fair scope for naughtiness here.

Off topic - is the button working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15612265)

Not sure where else to submit this query. If I type "routers" into the Slashdot search box and click the button, I get "No stories were found that match your query." Its the same whatever the search term.

Is it just me?
'/me ducks for cover

Hmm... I'd go with the "Bill" option (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15612297)

I'd get money for having people use my WiFi, then use one of the millions open APs when I go roaming...

Quite seriously, the amount of non-secured APs around my apartment is kinda scary. Then again, I couldn't afford my bandwidth if they didn't exist...

Lots of wireless already free (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | about 8 years ago | (#15612300)

I live in a small town in which almost no matter where I go, there's an open WAP somewhere. Sometimes it's the official free city wireless network, but just as often, it's a private person's wide open router. I haven't paid for personal Internet service in a year or so now, and it's only getting easy (Win XP makes it ridiculously simple).

Real Communism (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 8 years ago | (#15612310)

What stops you from reflashing the $5 router with Linux [] and blowing off the contract terms that require you to share it? The contract, sure, but are they really going to sue people, and blow all the "goodwill" they're generating, converting it to "illwill"?

I remember eMachines tried something similar, free/cheap PCs in the 1990s bubble, subsidized by ads around the outer margin of the screen. They sank and wound up selling the PCs for $100 to anyone who'd pay, and just letting those who wouldn't pay keep them without making too much noise about it.

For the love of (insert Deity here) RTA b4 comment (5, Informative)

dizzy8578 (106660) | about 8 years ago | (#15612325)

Try this one if you like a little more info. le27.html []

And Google if you want more.

The software is available for download if you already have a compatable router.
The $5 router is new but the warranty is null since the firmware is flashed with the FON version.

The firmware can split your bw between two ssid's one for FON and the other for private. Since the routers listed can be used with linux in the first place, (even the low ram ones per a Slashdot story from the past) then it is a good guess as to what the firmware is based on.

The router will indeed FON home (User>pass auth) and the interoperability and potential multipath routing seems inevitable when the density reaches a critical point in a particular area. (yes this is a guess rather than something in the site literature.)

But it seems like a good deal with little risk to the hot spot provider. The basic access is tracked and limited to users by password whether Linuses, Bills or Aliens.

ISP's who like to limit their users deserve to feel the slight pain of savvy users leaving for better ISP's.

I intend to dedicate one of my public IP's to the system and my ISP does not give a rats patoot what I do with is as long as I pay my bill and abuse does not get any valid complaints. I moved from comcast long ago and since my qwest router is bridged from my isp, Qwest has no say in how my bandwidth is used either.

  Of course I live in a city where my wifi detector finds free open signals by the dozens at nearly every traffic light, I suspect some folks here will split off a portion of their BW if there is a potential of making a little money for their service.

I will become a Linus just to help the concept of universal wi-fi along if only a little bit. I am going to upgrade my wifi net anyway once the N becomes semi standard so I will have 3 FON compat routers to share with the neighborhood while keeping my private network kinda tight.

But go to the site and read for your self the details of the program. []

Then make your own pithy comments here. :)

terms of service? (2, Interesting)

cbc1920 (730236) | about 8 years ago | (#15612326)

Doesn't this violate most ISP's terms of service? I am sure that mine bars me from sharing freely with others, let alone for financial gain. For this to be perfectly legal, wouldn't you have to buy some sort of commercial-grade access? Are things different over in Europe?

Full price router only $5 up front! (1)

flatcat (464267) | about 8 years ago | (#15612332)

Get the router for $5, install it.
Get your address posted on their web page.
Have your ISP cancel your service for violation of TOS, or force removal of FON router.
Pay full price of the router to FON for violation of their TOS.

Let's pause and think about this for a mo (3, Insightful)

Linker3000 (626634) | about 8 years ago | (#15612341)

Where do I need net access the most?

At home - OK, covered.

In the car - Not often, but when I do I use cell phone GPRS via bluetooth to a laptop or PDA. Do I really want to be driving around to find a Fon hotspot (fuel costs and inconvenience) and how many will be on the side of motorways and main roads anyway?

At airports - Yeah, right, the paid wifi service providers are really gonna let this happen. Stand by for clause changes in all shop leases to prevent them having a Fon router.

At railway stations - See above.

When I am walking through a shopping centre - Well, maybe (but not very often), but see airports.

When I am walking through the suburbs - What, carrying a laptop or PDA out in the open? OK, maybe (but not often)

Pubs and restaurants? Hmm - let's see... "...well Mr (or Ms) landlord; you can have a 'free-ish' router in return for a service elsewhere that might be handy to you once in a while (or will give you a small kickback) - OR you can spend some money on a 'proper' system with controlled access and we'll maintain it for you and split the profits..."

So is Fon going to blanket cover massive swathes of the globe - nah, you'll end up with lots of little clusters and big gaps inbetween.

Nice idea, happy to see it take off, but am very sceptical.
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