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

Whisher? In *MY* La Fonera?

It’s more likely than you think!

Q: If I have La Fonera and I install Whisher, does it allow me to share with others who have Whisher, but are not Foneros

The Whisher Client is essentially an enhanced alternative to the WiFi Configuration Utility that comes with Windows. It can be used to store connection profiles and connect to any “open” hotspot, including Fon hotspots. It will not circumvent or interfere with that kind of authentication. Users will still encounter the familiar start page of “open” hotspots that require registration, payment, or legal acknowlegements.

The Whisher Client may also be used to connect to any encrypted hotspot, if the user either provides the encryption key, or that hotspot has been optionally registered as a Whisher hotspot. The Private network of a La Fonera is not special in any way as far as this is concerned. Fon is not involved in authenticating your wireless printer or household guests who are given your WPA key to get online. Therefore, Whisher can even be used as a sole method to access the Internet through that device.

Whisher is also a handy way of helping your guests join your home network by asking them to install Whisher Client instead of entrusting them with your actual encryption key. It is also an easy way to get yourself online, if you have a good encryption key like “qDD3JAMaKsdvbwdaA7W2zEYh”, and have trouble remembering (or typing) it. ;)

While Whisher is not intended as a pay-for-access system, it has numerous advantages to Fon’s. Whishers enjoy an encrypted connection, which is something that nervous Foneros have been pleading for since the very beginning. Whisher potentially works with ANY wifi AP or router which supports encryption. No alterations are required to the router, and no dedicated “controller” PC is necessary (as with “FonSpot” software).

The Whisher Client will be updated to permit authentication by Enterprise WPA (username/password prompt), which means that valid Fonero credentials could be honored at Whisher hotspots via RADIUS relay. In such an arrangement, access using Fonero credentials would be at Fon’s discretion. Aliens who need to buy access could be redirected or blocked. 8)

A partnership with Whisher, to share their technology, means that Fon could provide superior, *encrypted* hotspot service anywhere that someone has set up *any* kind of wifi router and registered their MAC address and encryption key with Whisher. Expansion of the Fon Network would no longer require the expensive and time-consuming rollout of proprietary (and flakey) hardware, only requiring that Foneros download the Whisher Client applet, and finding a participating Whisher-Fon hotspot. This download could also include a VPN-over-Fon client, so that Fon could sell security services to Foneros who are at an open hotspot that is neither Fon nor Whisher!

One begins to understand why I have so much enthusiasm for Whisher, and how I think it makes an off-the-shelf solution for so many of Fon’s shortcomings. Whisher is not in competition with Fon. Whisher and Fon merely occupy different niches in the same ecology. As in nature, species which cooperate together enjoy a higher quality of life than those who simply compete for the same territory.

0 Responses to Whisher? In *MY* La Fonera?

  1. Mike Puchol says:

    Nice post, and well explained. While it is true that Fon and Whisher can be seen as complimentary, there is the backdrop story of how Fon was started, and Martin’s denial that anyone but him had the idea – Ferran was installing reflashed Linksys routers on the streets way before Martin thought about WiFi. The initial concept for Fon was to establish a WiMAX infrastructure to compete against the mobile telcos.

    So, while the two could complement, it is unlikely this will happen, rather, Martin will get someone to make a Whisher clone – if he sees the value in it. I don’t think however that Fon could suddenly steer away from the hardware business, it would look really bad in front of his investors.

    Talking about investors, it’s telling that Fon’s second round, none of the first round investors added money, and Martin had to find [I think it was] four [maybe five?] Asian investors plus himself to come up with the cash. Does this show enthusiasm and drive?

    One last comment. What will happen to all the 802.11g routers out today, when they launch their 802.11n routers at the end of the year? Because if Fon has to offer some sort of discount or upgrade plan, things could get quite complicated. A loyal fonero who has kept his router online should be entitled to a technology upgrade at a very low price or even free IMHO.

  2. austintx says:

    Ferran, of course, is Mike’s business parter at Whisher.com.

    I didn’t know Martin’s interest in WiMax went back that far, but I do know he wanted to set up hotspots for VOIP calls, and his focus was not on Internet connections for computers. His people deny this now, despite the name of the company: “Fon”. They are telling reporters that the company is named after an African tribe, for further unexplained reasons.

    I understand how investors might feel about a company making a big change in direction, but haven’t the current investors allready weathered this in Fon? I still argue that Fon is not a hardware company at all, anyway.

    Before undergoing several incomplete mutations over the past year, Fon was billing itself as a company that provided a convienient solution for people who wanted to make a little money by sharing their Internet connection (safely), or who were interested in obtaining cheap or free Internet connections from their neighbors. A “you scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours” arrangement. They implied a sense of empowerment by encouraging the community to get involved and circumvent the monopolistic Telcos and ISPs who are charging too much for similar services.

    Then WHAM – they imposed their proprietary, locked-down, rebranded hardware (despite the titanic expense and how this would shackle the rollout of the Fon Network) and backed way off on all of their promises. Dialogue between Foneros and Fon dissapeared, and any discussions that failed to properly praise Fon were banned and wiped from the public eye. Inquiries about the shortcomings of Fon’s network security, performance, and profit-sharing scheme were unanswered.

    We’re seeing some improvements in Fon’s community relations this month, but they’re the result of the USA/UK staff taking the initiative and chasing a bull out of the china store. I hope the English-speaking community flourishes in the future, and sets an example for others to follow. Perhaps we’ll even get the attention of people closer to the top who have been steering Fon like a private yacht, instead of an ocean liner. 🙂