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Fon Terminates Support for Fonera Routers, Fon Community Furious

February 13, 2010

Martin’s cheerful post yesterday, about yet another router model, didn’t go over well with the Community of worldwide Foneros. Comments were open, so everyone jumped on poor Martin’s case about the previous router models which still aren’t stable, particularly the latest one, which has been abandoned for several months with major issues still pending.

Martin’s blog post is an absolute HOOT to read. The angry, cheated Fonero Community descended upon him, demanding action, and his response was to literally cry and attempt to make Foneros feel guilty that his skeleton staff is overworked. Sorry big boy, the burden of guilt is entirely upon you there!

Martin clearly regards EVERY critic as “a troll” and proposes that Fon is somehow entitled to more compliments. I think it’s clear that he has an idyllic image that he refuses to let go of, and he will not listen to reason and see Fon for what it has become to those of us who actually comprise the Fon Network. This reminds me of the attitude of Fon’s Board moderators, who actually warn people to stop complaining until some more compliments pile up to offset them. Martin lives in such a bubble! He thinks he can manage Fon’s image by simple decree. But he’s just painting posies over his own windows.

Random things we learned about Fon this time:

  • Fon seems to be abandoning the “Fonera” moniker, as the new model is just called “SIMPL. This could be at the request of the still-unnamed telco Fon E-Partner at hand.
  • Fon is still just a spunky lil ole start-up that deserves more time, another chance, please be understanding, etc.
  • The Fon Network has “over a million” “daily users”. Interesting twist of English. He also claims “over a million” “Fon hotspots” but notice he doesn’t distinguish hotspots from users from members. In fact, as usual, he blurs them together whenever possible. In truth, Fon has only a few tens of thousand active Foneros (members/volunteers/contributors), about as many native hotspots (La Foneras), even fewer Aliens (guests/paying customers), and the rest is just partner hotspots being added simultaneously to both “member” and “customer” columns. *See update below.
  • Martin claims 23k “Fonera 2″ have been sold. The way he phrases it, he avoids distinguishing between 2g and 2n models, probably to conceal how few 2n routers were sold.
  • Fon employs less than 40 people now, from a high of around 130. They’re about to double the number of native routers they’ve ever sold, but no word if Fon will hire any more employees on… even while Spain suffers particularly high unemployment.
  • Martin admits that Fon has ceased supporting every previous router model, because their new 400k girlfriend needs all of their attention. And won’t Foneros just understand that and stop bothering them?
  • Despite Fon Boards and Martin Blogs being choked with complaints, Martin exclaims that he’s simply *sure* that most people are delighted with their Foneras, and they’re so happy we simply don’t hear from them!
  • Martin feels that La Fonera 2.0g works “pretty well” and since they also briefly offered discounts to upgrade, that this is good enough “support” for previous router models.
  • Over and over, Martin scolds commenters for their “disrespect” of Fon customer service staff. Except that noone’s complaining about the other staffmembers. This is Martin’s personal blog, after all, and they’re writing DIRECTLY TO HIM. It’s his leadership most of us have problems with. That’s what he’ll never accept.

IMHO, Fon is really stepping backwards to “simpler” routers because Fon has discovered the hard way that they don’t have the brand recognition to unload more expensive gadgets like La Fonera 2.0n. People are more likely to buy a cheapo router from an unknown company (like Fon), than a fancy expensive router. Problem is, this new one is still about $20 too much. Fon has also realized that it can’t construct nor maintain complex firmware, but they’re not going to admit that either.

Fon SIMPL’s sticker model number is 2305E. I expect it’s a re-badge of some other brand, as always. Perhaps in a few months, we’ll find manufacturer’s firmware to slap on this puppy. Check out Steven’s gallery of external photos here.

Anyone going to this “Mobile World Congress” can find more information about the Con, as well as some incorrect information about Fon here. Despite what it says there, Fon didn’t start the wifi revolution, Fon didn’t start with the Fonera wifi router, and Fon didn’t sell La Fonera when it launched in 2006. La Fonera 2.0n is not the most innovative; it’s a poor, faulty copy of routers many others have been selling for a couple of years, Fon is not the largest wifi community, but it contributes slightly to larger “partners” which make a considerable aggregate network. The numbers given about “members” and “hotspots” are blatent lies. Also, Fon forgot to mention one of their partners, McAfee, by which Fon is Safe!

UPDATE: In addition to Martin’s silly comments, see his silly new post in response to the complaints: Fonera 2.0n Quality Survey

*UPDATE2 to bullet point 3 above: According to FrancoFON’s database of the Northern Hemisphere on Feb 17 2010, there are a total of 691,000 active Fon hotspots including partners BT(364k), Neuf(82k) and Livedoor(176k) and 68,000 active La Fonera routers. They find 141,000 inactive La Foneras. A bit of quick research adds Fon partners ZON in Portugal – 100k circa 2/2010, Comstar in Russia – 2,000 circa 12/2009 and E-Plus in Germany for up to 25k circa 6/2009. That leaves 200k hotspots missing, unless we count Fon’s inactive routers, leaving us only 40k short. I know of no way to find out which partner hotspots are also inactive, but it becomes clear that Martin’s “over a million” statement is broad exaggeration. Fon’s contribution comes in at 5th (of 7) place (or 3rd if you unfairly count dead hotspots).

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Consider that Martin stated on Feb 3, 2010 that “It took Fon almost four years to sell half a million WiFi routers known as Foneras.” Since all live, plus dead Foneras only total 209k, this means that 291k Foneras were allegedly sold, but were never registered to Fon!

This picture gets far grimmer if you add “half a million sold” to an additional “15 million worth” of routers which Fon gave away. Fon sold La Fonera v1 routers for as little as $1, but in my mind, Martin would cleverly count that as “sold” and not free.** Only v1 routers were given away. Martin claimed that v1 was sold at practically cost, so at regular price of $29, that means an additional 500k routers were given away, an oddly convenient number. So if Fon has indeed *distributed* a full million routers now, only 209k were ever registered (21%, or 1-in-5) and only 68k remain live (or 3-in-10 of every router registered), which is about 7%, or 1-in-14 of all Foneras ever distributed!

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**It’s also possible that Martin is adding the same numbers into two columns again. He might count the “discounted” routers as both fully “sold”, and also a “fraction” of a free router by attributing part of that $15M to offset the amount of the discount. Warranty replacements probably also get relabeled as “given away” too; they additionally count as increments to Fon’s hotspot network (one dead router + one replacement = two purportedly available hotspots). Frankly, i’m weary of peeking down all the possible rabbit-holes. In this article i’m pretending that Martin’s statements are legitimate. If he’s outsmarted himself with statistical sleight of hand, and made Fon look bad, that’s his fault.

UPDATE3: Martin’s still at it. In his Spanish-only blog now, he whines about how English people are rude, and expresses that he thinks he’s entitled to praise for his “incredible work”, never mind the results. Again, he suggests that his poor staff’s feelings are hurt by any critical feedback (I wonder if this means Iurgi has been threatening to quit? Oh boy!), blind to the fact that the comments were clearly directed just at him. He again unambiguously admits that support for La Fonera 2.0g is terminated. That model was sold as beta for 6 months starting in Oct 2008, sold as “public ready” in April 2009, and the last firmware for it was issued Oct/Nov 2009. This suggests that Martin considers his company’s obligation finished after only about a year.

UPDATE4: A week later, Engadget finally posts their benign and obligatory article about SIMPL. Please visit there and ADD YOUR COMMENTS! Also, visit the online petition to Fon here.

In the event Martin’s blog posts get removed or censored, please check back here for my snapshots.

Bandwidth Rationing by Monopolies

April 10, 2009

If you’re a high speed Internet customer in the USA, particularly of Time Warner Cable, you can’t have missed the exploding controversy about their plans to impose bandwidth (download?) limits and charge customers who go over that limit.

Let’s just establish some facts here: bandwidth is not a product which is manufactured and consumed. It is 100% recyclable. No bits, bytes or gigabytes are being destroyed in the process of providing it to people. Bandwidth does not really cost ISPs anything to transmit beyond the cost of keeping the network equipment turned on and air conditioned! Bandwidth is merely the equivalent of a certain percentage of the network’s attention for a certain period of time. If everyone shut their cablemodems off at the same time for a day, TWC’s costs would drop only by an insignifigant percentage!

Another fact: there is no such thing as a “bandwidth hog”. Customers who download very little do NOT “subsidize” customers who download more. Bytes are not manufactured things which are consumed in the course of use. It is not ounces of fuel or kilowatts of electricity. Customers have contracts for “as high as (LOL)” speeds, and unlimited bandwidth over the course of the billing period. No one actually manages to acquire that much bandwidth, let alone exceed it! It’s true that the telcom monopolies have oversold their Internet service, but that is not the fault or problem of the customer. We’re not “hogs” just because we download and upload a statistically higher percentage than the grandma living next door!

There’s simply no other fair way to provide and bill Internet service other than by rate/sec over the billing period!

Another fact: a fully-utilized network costs only 7% more to maintain than an idle one, due to slightly higher cooling expenses, and long-term equipment wear.* THERE ARE NO BANDWIDTH SHORTAGES except where TWC and other monopolies are causing them as a pretense to raise prices and ration it!!

TWC would rather spend their magnificent profits on yachts for every day of the week than to upgrade their networks to meet their customer’s needs. They have no substantial competition! The bottom line is that in the short term, TWC is trying to kill video and voice services other than their own, by placing such an insultingly low threshold to start charging “overages”. In the long term, TWC is trying to link a fixed price to an irrelevant unit of measure, when the cost of providing the service is really dropping, even though technology makes much higher speeds possible.

If TWC imposes bandwidth caps of ANY KIND, I will abandon them immediately. If there are no alternatives, I will form a co-op with all of the neighbors on my block: those of us with Internet service will pool our connections together with the multi-WAN router I have sitting on this shelf here, and we’ll sell it to the rest of the neighbors and split the cost all around. A little bandwidth monitoring and management will ensure that we rarely go over our “limits” and if TWC feels “screwed” about this, then all I can say is that i’m not bringing any lube.

Customers of Time Warner Cable: please click the link below to join the online petition opposing their bandwidth caps:
Time Warner Cable Road Runner Bandwidth Cap

4/14 Addition: I am beginning to suspect that this is all another trick. Last year, ISP monopolies “gave in” to their customers who opposed packet filtering. And while people were still cheering, they blithely added “we’ll just throttle instead”. And isn’t that what they wanted to do all along, hmmmm? Now here we have what looks like a similar setup: absolutely ridiculously, insultingly low downloading caps that are guaranteed to raise a public outcry. Let us begin to anticipate what it is that TWC really wants, if it is not tiered downloading caps and Draconian overuse fees. Let us not be fooled again. TWC is probably following in some other telco’s footsteps here, and TWC’s experiment will serve as a testbed for every other greedy monopolistic ISP in the world, and believe me, the only kind of monopolistic ISP is a greedy one.

4/21 Addition: It seems that Time Warner is in tears, is taking it’s ball and going home. News is coming in that they’re not going to roll out DOCSIS 3, or offer higher speed connections. Sounds like punishment to me. TWC to Customers: You Don’t Want Tiers, You Don’t Get Super-fast Broadband

*I learned about this a couple of years ago, in an article which quoted a frank admission by a company president of a big backbone provider. I have been unable to find the URL, because the search terms “network neutrality” have too much noise to signal in a Google search. However, here is a new NYT article that makes the same point almost as well as the one I remember:
As Costs Fall, Companies Push to Raise Internet Price

The Five Stages of a Fon e-Movement

October 22, 2008

Preface: So the reader understands, the following is a summary of changes in direction which Fon has gone through since conception. This is not a parody nor wish-list. You may not have been aware of some of these former lives of Fon, but you can verify everything with your favorite search engine.

Stage 1) Distribute free Fon hotspot-for-VOIP-handset software, and build a community of volunteers who will run it on dedicated PCs, so that the public can save money on voice calls wherever such a (ad-hoc) Fon hotspot can be found. These are comparable to today’s femtocells, only they use wifi instead of rebroadcasting cellular frequencies, and are comparable to Fon’s experimental “FonSpot” software which is based on Linux. Fon to openly challenge monopolistic telco companies by selling cheaper services. Fon to profit by reselling Internet bandwidth donated by the volunteers.

Stage 2) Stage 1 plan fails to attract enough press or jump certain legal obstacles. Fon disavows it’s original plans, and remarkets the company as a community of volunteers who run Fon hotspots for PCs, with emphasis on the fairly obligatory “free roaming” feature offered to members. Changes the pronunciation of the company from “phone” to “fawn” and claim that they are named after the North African Fon Ethnic tribe. 😯 Ad-hoc-wifi PC software is dropped, and Fon is retooled as router firmware for popular wifi routers. Distribute free router firmware, and sell a supply of Linksys routers pre-flashed to get things moving. Official Launch of Fon as a Revolution, a Network, and a Community. The populist, community friendly facade permits Fon to attract fans and gloss over shortcomings in their membership terms and business plan. Most adoption takes place among techie hobbyists. The Press applauds.

Stage 3) Stage 2 plan fails to establish sustainable market for wifi sales, and Fon never explores whether it is their terms, their price point, or their chosen market which is at fault. Linksys routers ran out of stock. Product partnerships failed due to Fon’s exaggerated promises, creative alternate definitions and numerous unmentioned conditions. Member churn is high, because the Fon program does not keep their interest* long enough, and the routers are very easy to improve with better firmware (designed by an disgruntled ex-Fon developer). Fon invests literally no resources on the “revolution” or “community” aspects of their network, unless it makes a good soundbyte for the press. After an extended period of inactivity, during which the Fonero Community nearly completely dies away, Fon begins replacing the old open-source routers with a proprietary one. In key areas, a supply of those routers is given away or sold at cost, to encourage rapid growth of the Network. Most adoption now takes place among newbies, people who need a cheap wifi solution but did not read the fine print, and others who are far less likely to be dedicated to something because they weren’t asked to really invest in it. The Press applauds loudly. Fon now to profit from router sales, and by inflating the value of the company for eventual resale.

Stage 4) Stage 3 plan fails to generate sufficient nor permanent network growth. Proprietary routers prove to be hackable, but most owners simply discard them now when they lose interest*. Fonero Community, which Fon has failed to establish a relationship with, and has little influence over, is reaching out to The Press independantly. Foneros have studied and analyzed Fon’s TOS now, and are growing increasingly unhappy. Fon focuses on profitable router sales, and actively conceals statistics which reveal real growth, churn, and actual service availability. Fon diverts resources to non-wifi related gimmicks and side projects, neglecting the usage complaints and bug reports from the members. Fon to perhaps profit from side projects, when they become independant companies, by bleeding Fon for research & development resources, thus saving them expenses.

Stage 5) Fon forges “partnerships” with other wifi networks by granting “free roaming” for their members, to the whole network of Fon hotspots. These roaming agreements are typically one-way, free only for the partners, and the rest are subject to many conditions for the Fon members. “Partner” hotspots are quickly added to Fon’s census to suggest rapid and healthy growth. Everything is marketed as “good for Fon”, as it is suggested that members of the public are more likely to purchase a Fon router of their own if they are aware of the Fon concept. Emphasis is placed on “network growth”, but this is measured primarily by router purchases now. Fon claims to operate openly, but has never revealed statistics on day pass transactions, repeat sales, or membership churn. Fon continues to profit up-front from router sales, and continue to craft clever statistics to make the company seem more healthy. Fon still reports no churn, and the available figures strongly suggest that they are deliberately ignoring it. Fon CEO and Fon PR contradict each other’s growth statistics, but both suggest that Fon will cease operating at a loss by the end of 2009. Fon to profit if there is a buyer after that point?

Fon claims to have gained it’s one millionth “member”, using a brand new definition of such, and stretching that to a rather wide interpretation. Only a small handful of blogs reported this event. The Press at large ignored it.

*Foneros lose interest for various reasons, including: attracting too few customers, being unable to find hotspots to roam onto, unanswered questions about Fon’s legality, doubts about Fon’s security, objections to Fon’s membership and profitsharing conditions, incompatability with Fon’s router hardware/firmware, other hardware failures, discovering that they were unable to expand an existing LAN on a budget as hoped, or other reasons which Fon did not live up to their expectations.

I have left out a few twists and turns, because they either didn’t last very long, or didn’t result in signifigant change in Fon’s growth, method of operation, or culture. It would be an interesting excercise to draw up an academic timeline of Fon events and announcements, with references, and emphasis on points of contradiction. As for La Fonera 2 and Fonosferatu; we shall see. At the moment, I fear that they are just time-killers to make the company look lively until it recovers or gets sold. Fon has time on it’s hands now, and has those expensive La Fonera+’s to unload. The Linksys are gone, the La Fonera 1.x are probably running low, and there are only 1000 La Fonera 2’s. Fon is still relatively idle. Even their directors and developers are starting to wander into the message board now, looking for amusement.

So in a nutshell, Fon has clearly been sailing for a long time without anyone with a firm grip at the helm. The exaggerations and eroding credibility began quite early on. Fon has lost passengers and officers at every port, and Fon’s final destination changed frequently, with little regard for the remaining passengers. Fon hopes to pay for the cruise by selling the passenger’s belongings, and eventually the ship. 🙁

Interestingly, Fon CEO Martin Varsavsky has begun to carefully admit that Fon isn’t doing so well these days. He’s blaming it on the pending economic collapse, of course. However, we know that Fon has been showing signs of floundering and rebooting for a long time now. The layoffs Martin frequently mentions in the present-tense actually happened months ago. If the economy was strong, Fon would be doing just as bad, but still pretending things were rosy.

Why have so many Foneros abandoned Fon?

April 4, 2008

Fon President Martin Varsavsky has posted an adorable leetle survey on his blog today. Either he has no idea why Fon is failing under his leadership, or else he knows, and won’t list those reasons because he has no intention of fixing them.

The reason most Foneros have quit Fon is due to anemic equipment and firmware imposed upon them, and the culture of dishonesty in Fon’s press releases and business practices.

After promising to give us firmware which supported dual-SSIDs, Fon switches the bait and presents us with their proprietary, locked-down 1-port router with this feature. No dual-SSID for us Linksys and Buffalo Foneros. It’s just as well, because it turns out that many wifi adapters can’t cope with the little transmission trick that produces two SSIDs.

People with pre-existing home networks discover that they can’t access their LAN resources, even when using the private WLAN. There is no “bridge to WAN” feature. This device *looks* like an AP, but is instead a NAT router. This is one of the main reasons people abandoned Fon. They didn’t want to *start* a network. They needed to *expand* one (and on a budget).

This little overheating brick had WDS meshing built-in at first, but this was undocumented. Hackers learned to use it to aquire an Internet connection without paying or logging in. Fon quickly took WDS out, and has still never admitted it existed. Pres. V pontificates in his blog that the range-extending Fontenna (he sells) is superior to connection-relaying meshing, despite the poor performance of said Fontenna. He should have instead sold us a kit to mount the router outside, with an embedded booster antenna and PoE adapter.

Nearly two years later, La Fonera still doesn’t support MAC cloning, which is such a trivial feature to add. It is necessary for modems/ISPs which lock your service to your WAN MAC. This is another big reason people abandoned Fon- they never got it connected to the Internet. This feature wouldn’t even threaten the sales of additional Fon hardware. :(

Instead of improving the La Fonera firmware (except to rush out patches to keep people from aquiring better access to their device and developing new features), Fon spends R&D on further routers: Want one precious LAN jack? Buy the new router, at twice the price of the old one! This is surely why they don’t give us WAN bridge in the original La Fonera for free.

What would Foneros really prefer that Fon focus their attention on? Bringing the feature set of the router at least up to the point of every other cheap router on the market, nurturing and empowering the creative community that has built up around Fon, and showing some real progress for a change. Instead, here is “La Fonera Orwellian Name”, for $100, which lets you download free bittorrents of Fearless Leader’s video clips. Ugh.

“Buy thees Skype phone and make calls for free at any Fon hotspot in the world!” they said. Well, sure- if you had the encryption key for all of those Fonero’s private networks. The darn thing wasn’t able to log in through Fon’s public hotspot, until many months later, when a firmware patch was provided. Calls were then free if they were Skype-to-Skype, or you were spending the included “free” 20 trial Skypeout minutes. Skype pulled the ads down. Ugh.

“We split the profits 50-50!”. An outright lie. First, Fon takes unspecified “fees and taxes” out, then splits what is left. Fon refuses to itemize this amount, which varies from country to country and depends on the ISP, so there is no way to tell if they are paying you fairly. Fon only pays Bills if their hotspot is the Point Of Sale for day passes, not for bandwidth, length of wifi sessions, or number of customers. If paid-up customers wander over to his hotspot, Bills get nothing for the service he provides.

Fon’s price per day is quite reasonable when compared to other for-pay mobile Internet services. However, wifi is free in virtually every coffee shop in the USA, many restaurants and libraries, and provided by many municipalities throughout the city centers. Fon won’t budge on the price, or add something to make their service more desireable than free wifi, like VPN encryption.

Fon’s system mimics other “instant hotspot in-a-box” offerings, but these competitors are offering more flexible terms in setting prices and managing equipment. The competitors let you have control of your Internet connection, your router, and the appearance of your hotspot to the public. Fon pretends that they do too, but in reality, you have almost no control over what they clearly consider to be *their* router, and *their* hotspot.

It’s been obvious in recent months that Fon is fading away. Varsavsky spends his time supporting side projects, which have nothing to do with wifi (Mexican Wave, Fon URL Sortener, and several ways to abuse Gmail), and writing bizzare articles in his Fon Blog. Varsavsky recently dumped much of his Fon stock.

Fortunately, there is a thriving community of hackers who still develop improvements for La Fonera wifi routers. If a Fonero is willing to void his router’s warranty, he can have his MAC cloning, WAN bridge and much more. While they can do nothing about Fon’s awful profit-sharing, the routers themselves can even be flashed with entirely different firmware, and be used with other wifi networks, or even liberated entirely, including features usually found only in very expensive equipment.

There are so many other points, I could write volumes. Please visit Varsavsky’s blog, and instead of taking his survey, leave him comments which surely will fall outside his carefully selected choices.

UPDATE: Y’all will find this very interesting. Martin approved another round of comments to that post in his blog. While he approved a comment I made under a fake name, he did not approve a more coherent comment I made, as myself, discussing the exact same points, somewhat earlier that day. This is not proper management of his blog, this is censorship of those whom he dislikes. What a skunk!

Fon Vocabulary Lesson

February 2, 2008

Ok, this is getting out of hand. This guy says “Hello, I am a new to Fon, so I went to Fon, and ordered a Fon, and I have a problem with my Fon, I could not register my Fon and though I see other Fons on the Fon Map, can my Fon do this? Could one of you Fons help me? Fon, fon, fon, fon, FOOOOOOOON!!”

Please don’t drive us crazy! It is not an all-purpose syllable like “smurf.” Here is a quick course in Fon Vocabulary so that we all sound a lot more smarterer (put your mouse over the pictures):

This is Fon HQ (left), (right) This is La Fonera:

These are Foneros:

Typical Foneros. A Bill, A Cosplayer, a Linus and A Furry. One or more of them might also be gay. Fon is very receptive to alternative lifestyles.

Aliens are registered, paying guests of what we call the Fon Wifi Network. Those who use the anonymous, free 15 minute trial wifi sessions do not have a name AFAIK. If they never pay for their wifi, then they may be called Leeches.

There is no such thing as “A FON” or “Fons”. Well, unless you mean these:

A Fawn (left), (right) The “Fonz:”

Lastly, “Fon” is pronounced “phone”, and not “fawn.” Fon was conceived as a network of wifi hotspots for the purpose of connecting independant wifi-voip handsets. These could make cheap teleFON calls and undercut the exhorbitant rates of the monopolistic cellular telcos. Wifi for laptops was considered only as a side benefit, since there were allready plenty of wifi hotspots two years ago. Fon hotspots would be different because they would be tweaked for Voice Over Internet Protocol and have their own method of authenticating members of the Fon Network.

But something went wrong, because by Launching Day, Fon had a different business plan. Perhaps they wanted exclusivity with a major VOIP provider, but could not find a partner, perhaps they could not aquire necessary patents which were held by the monopolistic telcos. Fon will not discuss these matters, though interviews clearly describing their original business plan, are still recorded in blog posts.

Today, they tell the Press that “Fon” was named after the North African ethnic tribe of the same name. ?!!?!*%!!! which is 100% BS. Perhaps Fon was gagged by the courts, but there is plenty of evidence now, that they simply have a lot of trouble admitting that they’ve ever made mistakes.

Thank you for your respect and attention to this matter.

Fon Lake Dump Protest in El Reg

June 29, 2007

The Register writes today about the ongoing protest against Fon’s 15-minute free Internet promotion. As usual, they don’t really know what Fon is; they think Fon is a VOIP company. KenRadio thinks Fon is a meshing router. Boingo thinks they’ve added 130,000 new hotspots through their partnership with Fon. Whatever.

Fon does not verify the emails given for free access, and this is the only “identification” required for free access. Additionally, the promotion was sprung on the Fonero Community without warning, fully activated and without debate. Fon President Martin Varsavsky wrote in his blog that trivial details like how much Bills would be compensated, and how Foneros could opt-out would be provided later, but there still is no mechanism provided to do this. Perhaps we need to email support@fon.com and wait the usual 2 weeks, etc.

In response, Fon makes the orange “Alien” icons vanish from Fon Maps. These had been used by Foneros to spell out messages on Fon’s maps, just north of their headquarters. These icons were automatically placed where Aliens lived, and were not opt-out (though you could manually misplace them to protect your privacy). A year of complaining to Fon about privacy was fruitless; a moment of embarassment while the Press watched seems to have suceeded.

ADDITION: BlogWiMAX has picked up on the story.

ADDITION: NewsWireless.Net has picked up on the story.

ADDITION: Wireless-Weblog has picked up on the story.

Please look away!

June 25, 2007

Just an ordinary lake! Move along!

(click on the pictures for more information)

Look! Watch the funny man!

Nothing to see here. Keep moving.

Haha, it’s the silly man again! Which is all you find in *official* Fon blogs this week!

Still not getting the message!

Wow, all of those light-green dots are *offline* hotspots! How can this be, when they are right there at Fon Headquarters? And it looks like a lot of homeless Aliens (orange dots) are camped out among the trees along the highway. Or is this Martin’s army of homeless Bills who provide wifi for VOIP calls throughout the city?

Episode XII: Fon Censors Community Protest of Censorship

April 23, 2007

I bet the board meddlerator thought this matter had been sucessfully choked off when he deleted the thread. Well, this is the Thread That Shall Not Die. As you can see from the saved copy, there was no discussion of forbidden topics, just an accelerating protest against censorship, and confrontation of the moderator’s terrible attitude and lack of respect for the community. This is yet another example of how Fon scorns the community of bright and talented wifi-sharers, who will not tow the company line.

Click here to read the deleted thread.

This snapshot was taken just before the final post made, which was just a short compliment to me for having spoken up. Anyone who would like to continue this thread is welcome to use this blog’s comments to do so. :)

ADDITION: Today, megga-blogger Om Malik reported on some kind of overhyped Fon E-partnership that everyone is parroting this week. Awk! At the end of his post he references the long-unfixed bandwidth throttling control bug for the La Fonera APs. His link to one of the board threads on the topic is dead. Fon censored it!

Addition: the board thread which Om Malik linked to in his blog has been restored!