Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wifi Universal

Another business model seems to be making its way into the news. The idea is that users
will share their bandwidth through their personal wireless routers, which are supplied with specific software. An example is FON, a Spanish start-up created in November 2005. It aims to become the largest network of hotspots in the world by the end of 2006 with 70000 access points. The users are divided into three categories: linus share Internet access for free; bills sell their personal bandwidth; and aliens buy access from bills. Thus the system can be described as a peer-to-peer sharing service, which we usually relate to software.

Although FON has received some financial support by companies like Google and Skype, it remains to be seen whether the idea can actually work. There are three main challenges for this service at the moment. The first is that it needs much media and community attention first in order to get through the phase of "early adoption" and into the mainstream. Then comes the fact that sharing your Internet connection is often against the terms of use of your ISP. This means that in the next few months we can see ISPs trying to defend their interests in the same way music companies united against free MP3 distribution. And third, the FON software is still in Beta-version and it remains to be seen if it presents a good solution of the imminent security issues.

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