If this were a live FonBar, you would log in to the hotspot through the form above.

Stay the course, Mr. President!

Yeah, my previous post was ironic. I think most people sensed this, but I wanted to see what other people were thinking by way of the comments. :)

A new survey appearing in the english discussion board has moved me to write out these thoughts below. I thought it would make a reasonable “final” post for 2006:


On it’s present course, in 2007, Fon will miss its (probable) goal of being sold for profit. Fon has failed to develop any unique technology, business plan or social portal that makes it worth aquiring. Fon has set an excellent example of how to *cough* alienate, by poorly manipulating its once-enthusiastic members, and trying to regain the attention of the now-suspicious Press with a string of vaporware announcements. To Fon’s credit, they have demonstrated that a signifigant number of people are interested in sharing their broadband, with or without profit, under the promise (or illusion?) of experienced management and technological security.

Other wifi movements will have to retrace some of the paths that Fon has taken, as I feel that Fon did not entirely go in the wrong direction, but went without any consideration for it’s “companions” and under false pretenses. Fon never intended to reach the destination with the companions they set out with, which is why they repeatedly ask them to wait while they go off into the “woods” alone, without giving meaningful reasons or returning within a reasonable time.

By 2008, Fon will be sold at a loss, or cease to be. Perhaps Fon will retreat into a tiny remaining market, or maintain a skeleton crew to service a number of municipal clients who may possess resources to demand continued support. La Fonera routers will be obsolete technology by then, but there will be individuals who continue to use them with or without original firmware (remember, unlike the Linksys, La Fonera still provides the private SSID if it can’t find Fon. Preparing for the inevitable?).

Many small communities and hobbyists may continue to collect and use quantities of La Foneras using Meraki or other firmware along with a collection of other router models. They will be using open-source authentication and profit sharing systems that do what Fon had seemed to promise, but succeed by being flexible to meet a variety of needs in a variety of environments instead of by imposing terms and restrictions to keep people trapped.

These communities will function as meritocracies which attract superior participation by providing platform compatability solutions and hosting an active community of volunteer testers and developers who address and solve flaws in full view of the public. In other words, these things which have continued to galvanize the Fonero community, despite Fon’s neglect or outright opposition.

The world is growing tired of being tricked into overlooking details and placing trust in organizations which then work on their real plans in secrecy. Fon should have known better than to try this with the group of adept and outspoken hobbyists they first appealed to.

Can Fon change for the better? Does Fon have enough time left to adjust their system in order to meet the needs which exist and compete in a world where their unnegotiable access fee and unfair sharing plans fail to provide positive incentive? Absolutely, yes. Unfortunately, Fon can neither regain, nor do they deserve, our future trust.

0 Responses to Stay the course, Mr. President!

  1. PJMDS says:

    Lets hope for the best, FON still has potential to be a great company and provide his FONEROS with good promotions and support, without us FON will die.

    Happy new year, lets party now 🙂

  2. kyros says:

    I hope that FON will refocus more to the needs of their community when they have reached the size they seem to have agree upon with their investors.
    If not there will be for sure possibilities to run a FON hotspot with secure non FON firmware with every hardware they present.

    FON let us to regognise the big amount of possible Wifi sharing people out there.
    My dream for the future is that the exercise FON gives will lead all the small ad bigger Wifi communities once to merge to a big background FreeWifiNet in which all different community’s members can use the other associated Wifi hotspots.

    And now I whish you a happy new year – and yess, Mr. PJMDS – lets party now!

  3. Mike says:

    Nice post – the one thing you have to keep in mind is that Martin, if anything, is well connected and resourceful, so if push came to shove, and he really believed in the project, he could put his own money in it. With a burn rate of 500k Euro per month, their money is not going to last very long, and either the investors believe it is worth adding more, or they get new investors, or Martin funds it himself.

    Getting alternative firmware inside the Fonera is getting easier every day, as people refine the method (I’m going to try with mine soon, and post the results) – meaning that what you say could become true, a parallel network of rogue Foneras. The neglect seems to be generalized, with some guy from Taiwan posting on the English forums his distress about the situation of FON over there…

  4. austintx says:

    I just hope people understand; I don’t exactly advocate a “parallel network of rogue … ” Fon routers. I have taken great care to see that my Linksys continues to offer a genuine public Fon hotspot and authenticates with Fon in the proper manner, while runing DD-WRT instead of Fon’s firmware. I support Fon in building a worldwide, unified membership who can prove their identity at any Fon hotspot. I don’t intentionally assist anyone who just wants to flush out the fonware to get a free router.

    What i’m pushing for is to abandon the insulting, locked-down environment that Fon suddenly became, and to turn instead into a set of standards that anyone can follow to create a Fon hotspot out of whatever hardware they have. All it takes is a PC with Linux+Chilispot on it, two ethernet cards, broadband and an old WAP. Fon won’t dignify any arrangement that doesn’t use their own crippleware, and insist on setting fees and profit sharing percentages that are uncompetative in most of the world today.

  5. dema says:

    Apocalypse Now !!!
    Wow Austin 🙂
    Happy new year to everybody