This page is now divided into three sections: HARDWARE, for wired or wireless equipment that does not work with Fon hardware,SOFTWARE, for computer programs that do not work properly through a connection that involves Fon, and NETWORK, for sites that are not properly routed, including DNS server errors, when using a Fon hotspot.
If you have any problems like these, but don’t see your hardware, software, or web site listed here, please email information about it firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will maintain the list here.
Most wifi adapters appear to be quite compatible with the La Fonera AP. When scanning for networks, they will find both the “FON_AP” and “MyPlace” SSID names, and be able to connect to either of them without trouble.
Some people are reporting that they have problems finding, connecting to, and remaining connected to the La Fonera AP. The symptoms are remarkably similar, and patterns are emerging that suggest certain Manufacturers and Models are especially vulnerable.
I’ve been compiling a list of hardware reported to display these symptoms. The first number is the number of reports i’ve observed. The end of each line may have several screen names of people making these reports, which I keep so that I don’t duplicate a report. If you feel I have listed you inaccurately, please let me know.
Reported Incompatible Hardware:
# of Reports =-=-= Model =-=-= Reported by
1 Acer InviLink 802.11b/g [shrikey]
1 AirPort Extreme [Lynoure]
1 ASUS WL-138G (PCI card) (Linux drivers) [lucamanu]
1 D-Link WDA-2320 [ice.skillz]
1 D-Link DWL-510
1 D-link DWL-650+
1 D-Link DWL-G520+ (PCI card) [SkyForce]
1 Intel PRO/Wireless 2100b [obsidian]
3 Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.11b/g) card [gyongyosim][Lynoure][1sy8]
1 Intel PRO/Wireless 2915a/b/g [Lynoure]
5 Intel PRO 3945 ABG (in Dell Inspiron E1505) [robr][fedcas][jrribeiro]
1 Lan-Express IEEE 802.11 PCI Adapter, on HP 2175CA [dave1945]
1 Linksys WUSB11 V2.5 Instant Wireless USB Network Adapter
1 Nokia E61 (phone)
1 SIS 163U [fedcas]
1 WL-388 mini-USB device (Gemtek?)
1 TC300 aka D910, L10, T-ONE (GSM/WiFi handset) WAP style browser incompatible with Fon public hotspot login page. [siiix]
1 A-Link RR44 (adsl modem/router)
Apparently Compatible Hardware:
1 Atheros AR5005G
1 Nokia N80 Phone
1 Proxim Orinoco Gold ABG PCMCIA [austintx]
1 Sprint 6700 PDA Phone [robert]
Suspected Source of Incompatabilities:
The La Fonera AP (with Atheros chipset) is able to generate two SSIDs by using a little trick: it broadcasts one SSID/BSSID pair, signals that it is going to sleep, then “wakes up” and broadcasts the other SSID/BSSID pair…. rinse, repeat.
-> Signal Wake -> Broadcast MyPlace -> Signal Sleep -> Signal Wake -> Broadcast FON_AP -> Signal Sleep ->
What we are guessing is that *some* wifi adapters will insist on following the AP into sleep mode themselves, for an indeterminate time period; or perhaps they immediately start scanning for *new* connections and miss the original one “waking up”…. in either case, they miss enough future SSID beacons that they think the AP has shut off for good, and the association is broken.
Intel and Atheros both reportedly agree that there is a problem, but they’re blaming each other:
One solution might be to simply disable the private SSID of the La Fonera AP (it is the “virtual” one, after all). Since the La Fonera has no LAN port, the “private network” is of extremely limited use anyway. Unfortunately, this is not an option Fon allows us. UPDATE: This is now possible using FreeWLAN‘s easy to install plugin, and other hacks.
You might have better luck if you update your wifi adapter drivers, and disable all “power save” and “sleep” features to your wifi adapter. If you have visited a lot of hotspots and they show in your Windows Wifi manager history, delete all of them except the La Fonera’s SSIDs.
This section will be expanded in the future, but there have been reports that certain VPN and PPTP applications do not work over the public SSID of a Fon hotspot.
Problem: Whenever Fon Wifi Connection Manager is launched, it closes by itself a couple of seconds later without perfoming login.
Discussion: Fon Wifi Connection Manager installs ok, and “FON WiFi” icon appears in application menu. The application is not observed running in the background. Powercycling the phone does not resolve issue. Reistalling the application does not resolve issue. Installing the app in phone memory or on SD card fails identially. Phone is Nokia E61, running Symbian operating system OS 9.1, Series 60, 3rd edition 3.0633.09.04. with 40MB free in phone memory and 1GB free on SD card.
Solution: Unresolved as of Apr 25, 2007
When connected to the public or private SSIDs of a Fon hotspot, any wired resources of the upstream LAN (PCs, networked printers) are unavailble. Fon has not designed their firewall so that a Fonero may use his new Fon router as a proper Access Point (AP) and thereby network with his preexisting computers and devices.
Public Network SSID “FON_AP” or “FON_FREE_INTERNET”:
Computers connected to the public network will only see an Internet connection, and not each other. These computers cannot network together. Computers at external Internet addresses should be available, but Fon imposes their own private DNS server upon the public network, and it has been demonstrated that it sometimes has the wrong IP for a number of popular domains (more on this below).
Private Network SSID “MyPlace” or custom:
Computers connected to the private network can see each other and network together. If your network printer is wireless and is compatible with the encryption and cipher of the private network, then you may be able to use it. If you have an existing LAN with other computers that are connected by cables, they will not be available. Essentially, a Fon hotspot is neither a proper AP nor router, since it’s internal routing capability is artificially limited, and it offers little more than an Internet-only AP to the outside world. Future models in the La Fonera line, which are simply rebranded Accton mini-routers, may have LAN and USB ports added on for specific purposes. Let us hope this solves the problem in the future.
Many people, who have existing LANs and routers, choose to chain the Fon AP through their existing wired router, or older class of wireless router. The Fon router/AP usually can obtain an Internet connection this way, but occasionally does not. It may be necessary to set the Fon AP on a fixed IP. Also, when chained through some routers, this may actually allow inadvertent access to the wired LAN by wireless clients on either or both the public and private networks. This is obviously a security problem, though there are rarely complaints from those who are happy to be able to use Microsoft Networking with their wired PCs and printers again. We suggest you test your network thougherally, from both public and private networks.
Wireless clients using the public network (FON_AP SSID) are assigned Fon’s own private DNS servers via DHCP, instead of the DNS servers provided by the ISP supplying that Internet connection. This is a problem, because Fon’s own DNS servers are slower, are sometimes unavailable (resulting in Page Not Found errors), and do not always supply the correct IP address for a valid domain (blah.com) or subdomain (mail.blah.com). It is thought that Fon imposes their own DNS servers because they wish to collect marketing data, build their own “walled garden” where Fon-only services are available only from a Fon hotspot, or otherwise provide URL substitution for their own benefeit.
For instance, they could interfere with access to their competitor’s websites. They could reroute requests for “google.com” or “my.google.com” and send them to “fon.google.com” to rack up scores with Google and increase their importance. It is likely that they will also use their DNS servers to make “login.fon.com” a different destination when requested by an Alien’s browser while connected to a Fon hotspot, than it would be from any non-Fon Internet connection. It would route to an error message from outside a Fon hotspot. This latter possibility is an effort at improving security, but easily circumvented by pasting the valid “login.fon.com” IP along with the domain name right in a PC’s “hosts” file. Fon is deaf to complaints about poor performance from their servers, and it seems we may have to cope with this in other ways unless they relent.
I should have begun composing this list earlier, but will make an effort to catch up here now. The following is a list of Internet addresses, domains and/or subdomains, which do not work when using Fon’s DNS servers:
pop.gmail.com April 24, 2007