I just sent off my order for a new FON router. Years ago, when FON just got started, I was an early adopter. And, I have to say, FON left a bitter taste in my mouth.
The premise of FON hasn’t really changed, though the terms of service have gotten better. You buy a router on the cheap, pre-loaded with FON’s custom firmware, and then you get to use other people’s FON-enabled connections while roaming. FON makes its money from selling Wi-Fi access to people who aren’t FON members.
It’s a great idea, sure to draw ire from those ISPs that clearly forbid the practice. FON of course is attempting to make theworld’s largest hotspot network, in order to sell the service to people who need an internet connection (and stumble upon the FON hotspot of a particular house/business). Shortly after launch, FON began cutting users in on the revenue… but, at the cost of free roaming. You had to chose if you wanted to make money from your hotspot, or be able to use other people’s FON routers elsewhere.
That’s changed now, you get to roam for free, and collect 50% of the hotspot sales from your router. The other thing that has changed, is FON’s router and firmware… they now both actually work. The first-gen FON firmware locked you out of your LAN… not good.
But, it hasn’t been a smooth ride so far. I couldn’t even order the equipment using Safari… had to start the whole order again in Firefox (Note to FON: Fix your online store so it doesn’t give customers an infinite loop).
Now, am I going to trust FON again with being my router? Heck no… it will be deployed downstream of my router.
Oh, and did I mention I live next to a school now? It will be interested to see if there’s an uptick in usage, from soccer moms and dads checking their email, while waiting to pick up their kids from school. Still, my expectations aren’t that high… I won’t be surprised if nobody uses it at all. But, for $50 (including the extra-range antenna), it’s a nice experiment in merging the worlds of 4G and traditional data networks.