Fon Announces New Beta Tester’s Program

Those who complained before about Fon’s exclusive, invite-only Beta Testing programs will be happy with the new one. Or maybe not.

Anyone in France, Germany and Spain may join the Beta Tester’s program by purchasing a La Fonera 2.0 “Liberator” in the Fon Shop for €39.95 ($53.92) plus shipping. This new router is just like the 1-WAN 1-LAN La Fonera Plus, but also has an USB port in the back, and an additional LED on the front. Fon hopes you will contribute further to this project by developing support for additional devices, which they will perhaps certify and add to future firmware releases.

It is not clear what devices are currently supported, because if you read Martin Varsavsky’s blog carefully, he is saying that the USB port “could” support devices like USB hard drives and thumb drives, printers, scanners, and webcams. In fact, he admits that support for devices could be slow in coming, and that the use of a powered USB hub is reccommended. That’ll make quite a nest of cables when I winch my La Fonera 2 up on a pole outdoors!

The Fonosferatu “community” of developers has still not been organized, but Fon is certainly still hoping that Foneros will abandon such independant community projects as FreeWLAN and FrancoFon, and come together to work under Martin’s warm, guiding hand. Would you do it for a T-shirt? Martin has provided his wish-list of applications for Foneratus to work on, including the bittorrent application he mentioned when La Fonera 2 was announced back in EARLY JUNE, 2007.

Some things I like about the USB port is the possibility of using it as part of a home security system, when the router is mounted outside with a compatible webcam attached. I have written in the past about how metro wifi projects might like to purchase such routers which can have instrument packages added. This could include traffic monitoring cameras, weather and temperature monitoring, and even gunshot location using microphones and triangulation.

With wifi meshing enabled, city utilities could be measured remotely using devices attached directly to the meters on each home and business. The bandwidth may not be optimal for gaming, but any meter could still be directly interrogated within a few seconds. Energy-saving programs could use this network to shut off unneeded devices and adjust thermostats.

One goal that I think is important to work toward is in developing an USB-over-Ethernet driver, and abandoning development of multiple onboard drivers and services for LF2′s USB port. There are numerous open-source projects like USB Server, which let a PC mount an remote USB port over Ethernet, as though it were physically attached, though that port is elsewhere in the world. This is likely the best way to provide the most compatability and flexibility, while saving LF2′s precious resources for the wifi.

I am absolutely against using technology to further build out the police state many governments are hungry for, but you can see how devices like this can also be owned and used by the citizens for good purposes. For anyone that is interested, tomorrow is an international day of protest against surveillance; “Freedom Not Fear“. Please click the link to find activities in your area.

UPDATE: Only 1000 of these developer’s edition of La Fonera 2 will be sold, but if you’re one of the dozen or so busy Foneros who create an application which Fon actually likes, you could be reimbursed the cost of your router! Have Fon with that.

UPDATE: 10/23 Fon will now accept orders for the remaining La Fonera 2s from any country except Canada.

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7 Responses to Fon Announces New Beta Tester’s Program

  1. PJMDS says:

    That’s a new concept invented by FON, you have to pay them to improve their device, shouldn’t be the opposite ?!

    Just like in the past most of the beta testers don’t get the device in order to beta test it, it’s sold first and tested later, are we supposed to buy the device and waste our time to help FON ?

  2. austintx says:

    I think this thing is called “jumping just before the elevator hits the bottom of the shaft”. Fon is firing everyone they can manage without, and selling anything they have on the shelves. It raises a little bit of money, perhaps.

  3. Roetzen says:

    “but if you’re one of the dozen or so busy Foneros who create an application which Fon actually likes, you could be reimbursed the cost of your router! Have Fon with that.”

    When I worked as a professional developer my boss charged his customers €75/hour for my services. That was 10 years ago. How much time do you think a professional developer today will be willing to spend on it, considering that the best he can hope for is to get back his €40 investment on the Fonera2?

  4. PJMDS says:

    No serious developer would even think about gaining some money with FON, most of the community developers working with the FON routers are students doing it for fun and to apply what they are learning, I doubt that someone with a job and family would even waste money on a router which doesn’t have all the software for the hardware.

    This week is my last week reading FON related stuff, might also stop being fonero soon, I got tired of to much crap from FON side, in Portugal FON sold us to a company called TvCabo, that company is now using our service like one extra for their services, their clients can use our hotspots for free for 6 months, they don’t even need to share like other foneros.

    Also the FON system is exploitable in many ways, for example the 15 minutes of free wifi can be easily exploitable, FON knows that for many months. Also the all “FON is secure” crap is a bunch of lies, the public SSID isn’t encrypted, anyone can snif the trafic and see almost all in plain text, even a noob can do it in Windows with the proper software and wireless drivers.

    Another thing that abset me was the FON CEO Martin ignoring most of the fonero questions on his blog, he accepted comments but couldn’t keep up with the questions and facts, he revealed how weak is his knowledge about FON or just that he is lying about FON “success”.

    Best regards to all foneros, don’t join the dark side of the force ;)

  5. austintx says:

    I hear you loud and clear, PJ. Fon has not been willing or able to live up to it’s claims since the beginning. There was never a feature or news announcement that did not require an asterisk (*) at the end, leading to a long list of conditions and very suprising definitions of terms.

    Folks like you and me have been trying to fill the void with independant Fon-related activity. We have bonded together as a group who call rightly themselves “Foneros”. We’ve tested, reverse-engineered, enhanced and rebuilt the Fon system. We’ve brought our own ideas about community wifi networking, and debated the merits of a variety of courses.

    Though we carry the Fon banner more and more grudgingly each week, we have succeeded in building something worth keeping. I hope that you, and others who share our interests, hang in there. I think we’re an important part of a larger community wireless networking scene. Let’s stop worrying about Martin’s foibles and Fon’s failures.

    We’ve felt from the very beginning that Fon was for US, not the other way around. Fon has dissapointed us, and even opposed us, but our community has survived. Let’s keep the Fonero Community idling so that we are ready when the opportunity to make a transition elsewhere becomes possible.

  6. AC says:

    “UPDATE: 10/23 Fon will now accept orders for the remaining La Fonera 2s from any country except Canada.”

    What’s up with Canada?!

    I’m all ready to order a FON 2.0 router but I can’t buy it here yet.. Any particular reason for that?

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