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

ClearWire’s WiMax/WiFi Router

January 13, 2009

Reviews are coming in from Portland OR, USA about the quality of WiMax service launched there by Clearwire. Most of what I am reading sounds positive.

I mentioned Clearwire in my previous blog. They have been offering a sort of “pre-WiMax” wireless broadband service in major cities across the USA.

Clearwire and Sprint had intended to partner under the Xohm name, and roll out WiMax throughout the USA. Austin, TX had been one of those target cities, and I was very excited! To make a long blog short, Sprint is not doing so well, and the partnership dissolved, leaving Clearwire to attempt a more limited roll-out on their own.

Here is their handy little WiMax/WiFi router. This device marries a WiMax modem in an USB dongle with a small WiFi router equipped with an USB port. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

It’s dissapointing that Fon’s Fonosferat Program has avoided thinking of La Fonera 2.0’s USB port as a WAN interface. With WiMax and WiBro dongles available for a year already, Fon could have achieved the WiMax-Fon router by now. Perhaps they are still looking for a way to deliver Fon CEO Martin Varsavsky’s vision of *providing* WiMax service via a Fon device which is tethered as usual to DSL or cablemodem?

T-Mobile UK Launches Mobile Broadband @ £.67/day!

September 21, 2008

This is a new option to join T-Mobile’s “Mobile Broadband Max” cellular data plan, available wherever T-Mobile reception is found in the UK. You can use up to 3GB/month of bandwidth before T-Mobile throttles you, or contacts you about adjusting your plan. It also includes unlimited access at T-Mobile Wifi Hotspots. Skype and other VOIP calls are permitted using the service.

You can pay £2/day or prepay for a month and surf the web for as little as £.67/day! Compare to Fon Wifi at €3/day. Access is provided by using compatible T-Mobile handsets as a modem, or a USB modem/memory stick costing £49.99.

T-Mobile says a contract is not necessary, but mentions 12-24 month contracts, credit checks, and 30-day cancellation requirements. It’s possible this is simply a try-before-contract deal, but the rates are almost the same under contract.

This is a compelling alternative to Fon and other for-pay wifi providers. Though there may be an up-front cost for the modem, the daily usage fees are far lower, and service availability is guaranteed much higher.

It would be wonderful to have this in the USA. I would not hesitate to join a service like this, to have the freedom to bike out on the trails with my laptop, headset and modem. I’d do a little telecommuting work while sitting under a cedar tree on a cliff top overlooking the river valley. Our beautiful Barton Creek area is surrounded by upscale homes, so cellular reception there is excellent. Of course, i’d experiment with ways to boost my signal, just for the geeky fun of it. 😉

As my eyes rest upon my shelf full of blinking Fon merchandise, I am wondering what Fon will do to respond to this new service? Lower their rates? A new Fon E-Partnership with T-Mobile or AT&T?

I’ve also had my eye on the Fon hotspots in my city. Since I last checked, most of them have gone dead! I’ve been visiting my closest Fonero neighbors and learning why this is. I will blog about this in the near future.

Update: Thanks b250, for pointing out that I used € where actually £ is indicated.

Fon E-Partnership turns cellphones into hotspots

August 8, 2008

Today Fon and JoikuSoft announce their collaboration in a software addon for Symbian phones, called “JoikuSpot”. You can buy it in their JoikuShop at an introductory price of €15. It uses 3G or GPRS as your Internet backhaul (WAN), and built-in wifi for the hotspot (possibly in peer-to-peer mode instead of AP mode), so you too can share your bandwidth wherever you go!

My first thought, of course, is how this is excellent news for homeless Bills who have been encumbered by the extra weight of a La Fonera router, cables, and battery packs. Now, when they sell wifi at the train station, they only need to carry a single device with them! Hopefully, Fon can partner with a major cellco and negotiate a discount on their unlimited data plans for this charitable purpose.

JoikuSpot supports the following cellphone models (with an appropriate carrier, “unlimited” high speed data plan providing 3G/GPRS, and carrier provisioning to enable wifi on the phone):

  • Samsung i550 and G810,
  • Nokia E51, E60, E61, E61i, E65, E66, E70, E71, E90, N77, N78, N80, N81, N81 8GB, N82, N91, N93, N93i, N95, N95 8GB, N95 8GB Americas, and N95 Americas.

JoikuSpot Premium also includes a VPN client to secure your connection to a home or corporate VPN server. JoikuSpot Premium does not force visitors to a default landing page, and is also 100% customizable for operator whitelabeling and licencing.

More information here:
Joikusoft and FON work together
Joikusoft and FON Unveil Wi-Fi HotSpot Software
Joikusoft and FON unveil Wi-Fi HotSpot software
Joiku, FON to offer premium mobile hotspot software
FON and JoikuSoft Introduce FonSpot Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Software

Download Fon POI Files

May 28, 2008

These links allow you to download Fon POI files directly from Fon, so you don’t have to navigate Fon Maps. Fon builds the files once a week, Mondays at 1:30 AM CST. Fon does not actually generate these files on demand, although the 3-step process one goes through from the Maps implies otherwise.

Update: Sorry, these links no longer work. Fon has removed the POI function entirely -again-. No doubt because they make it so easy to demonstrate and track how Fon’s hotspot population is dwindling. Fon claims they’ll be back “real soon”, and have been saying this since the last quarter of 2011.

This list of links will download .CSV versions, which open in Excel. If you desire .KML, .GPX or .OP2 versions, simply right-click on the country you want, select “copy shortcut” or “copy link location”, then paste into the address bar of your browser. Edit the last three characters in the URL, and hit Enter.

The list starts with the top 20 most populated of 172 Fon countries (on May 26, 2008), with the rest following in alphabetical order, by country code. Again, clicking on the links below DOES provide you with the LATEST POI file for each country.

  1. FR – France
  2. JP – Japan
  3. DE – Germany
  4. ES – Spain
  5. US – United States
  6. IT – Italy
  7. TW – Taiwan
  8. SE – Sweden
  9. KR – South Korea
  10. NL – Netherlands
  11. UK – United Kingdom
  12. HK – Hong Kong
  13. FI – Finland
  14. PT – Portugal
  15. CN – China
  16. AT – Austria
  17. DK – Denmark
  18. BE – Belgium
  19. HU – Hungary
  20. CA – Canada
  21. AC – Ascension island
  22. AD – Andorra
  23. AE – United Arab Emirates
  24. AF – Afghanistan
  25. AL – Albania
  26. AN – Netherlands Antilles
  27. AO – Angola
  28. AQ – Antarctica
  29. AR – Argentina
  30. AS – American Samoa
  31. AU – Australia
  32. AW – Aruba
  33. AX – Iles
  34. AZ – Azerbaijan
  35. BA – Bosnia and Herzegovina
  36. BB – Barbados
  37. BD – Bangladesh
  38. BF – Burkina Faso
  39. BG – Bulgaria
  40. BH – Bahrain
  41. BJ – Benin
  42. BM – Bermuda
  43. BO – Bolivia
  44. BR – Brazil
  45. BS – Bahamas
  46. BT – Bhutan
  47. BY – Belarus
  48. BZ – Belize
  49. CC – Cocos Keeling Islands
  50. CD – Congo
  51. CH – Switzerland
  52. CI – Ivory Coast
  53. CL – Chile
  54. CM – Cameroon
  55. CO – Colombia
  56. CR – Costa Rica
  57. CS – Serbia and Montenegro
  58. CV – Cape Verde
  59. CY – Cyprus
  60. CZ – Czech Republic
  61. DM – Dominica
  62. DO – Dominican Republic
  63. DZ – Algeria
  64. EC – Ecuador
  65. EE – Estonia
  66. EG – Egypt
  67. EH – Western Sahara
  68. ET – Ethiopia
  69. FJ – Fiji
  70. GA – Gabon
  71. GD – Grenada
  72. GE – Georgia
  73. GF – French Guiana
  74. GG – Guernsey
  75. GH – Ghana
  76. GL – Greenland
  77. GP – Guadeloupe
  78. GQ – Equatorial Guinea
  79. GR – Greece
  80. GT – Guatemala
  81. GY – Guyana
  82. HM – Heard and McDonald islands
  83. HN – Honduras
  84. HR – Croatia
  85. HT – Haiti
  86. ID – Indonesia
  87. IE – Ireland
  88. IL – Israel
  89. IM – Man Island
  90. IN – India
  91. IQ – Iraq
  92. IR – Iran
  93. IS – Iceland
  94. JE – Jersey
  95. JM – Jamaica
  96. JO – Jordan
  97. KE – Kenya
  98. KH – Cambodia
  99. KI – Kiribati
  100. KP – North Korea
  101. KW – Kuwait
  102. KY – Cayman Islands
  103. LB – Lebanon
  104. LC – Saint Lucia
  105. LI – Liechtenstein
  106. LT – Lithuania
  107. LU – Luxembourg
  108. LV – Latvia
  109. MA – Morocco
  110. MC – Monaco
  111. MG – Madagascar
  112. MK – Macedonia
  113. ML – Mali
  114. MM – Myanmar
  115. MN – Mongolia
  116. MO – Macao
  117. MQ – Martinique
  118. MT – Malta
  119. MU – Mauritius
  120. MV – Maldives
  121. MX – Mexico
  122. MY – Malaysia
  123. NA – Namibia
  124. NC – New Caledonia
  125. NG – Nigeria
  126. NI – Nicaragua
  127. NO – Norway
  128. NZ – New Zealand
  129. OM – Oman
  130. PA – Panama
  131. PE – Peru
  132. PF – French Polynesia
  133. PG – Papua New Guinea
  134. PH – Philippines
  135. PK – Pakistan
  136. PL – Poland
  137. PR – Puerto Rico
  138. PS – Palestinian Territory
  139. PW – Palau
  140. PY – Paraguay
  141. QA – Qatar
  142. RE – Reunion
  143. RO – Romania
  144. RU – Russian Federation
  145. SA – Saudi Arabia
  146. SG – Singapore
  147. SI – Slovenia
  148. SK – Slovakia
  149. SM – San Marino
  150. SN – Senegal
  151. SO – Somalia
  152. SR – Suriname
  153. SV – El Salvador
  154. SZ – Swaziland
  155. TH – Thailand
  156. TJ – Tajikistan
  157. TN – Tunisia
  158. TR – Turkey
  159. TT – Trinidad and Tobago
  160. UA – Ukraine
  161. UG – Uganda
  162. UY – Uruguay
  163. UZ – Uzbekistan
  164. VC – St Vincent and Grenadines
  165. VE – Venezuela
  166. VI – Virgin Islands
  167. VN – Viet Nam
  168. YE – Yemen
  169. YU – Serbia and Montenegro
  170. ZA – South Africa
  171. ZM – Zambia
  172. ZW – Zimbabwe

Make your hotspot mobile with La Fontap

October 12, 2007

Here’s a little project I actually did some months ago. I hope it inspires a wave of (legal) guerilla hotspot activity. Milk your wifi and bring affordable Internet to a hotel or cafe near you!

Some people have discussed tapping a USB connection for 5v DC. You can also tap a PS/2 keyboard port (if you have one) for 5v without any additional circuitry. The tap I have wasn’t entirely built by me. It was provided by Logitech to supply power to an old webcam. It can connect to both large and small keyboard connectors, and has an extra side wire where the 5v is split off. I stripped the wires and determined which one was + and – by trial and error. The power connector was cut off from some other transformer. I keep lots of small parts like this.

Here is a photo of a PS/2 connector showing which pins you need to tap:

Here is a photo of my La Fonera resting comfortably with it’s new power connector:

Here is La Fonera behind my trusty old laptop, showing that it is indeed working with the laptop keyboard port as power source, and Ethernet jack as Internet source. Sorry it is underexposed, I wanted you to see the glowing LEDs better. I hope you can see, on La Fonera I have power, Internet and WLAN lights all working, and also the link light on my Ethernet jack. Click photo for larger version:

Finally, it was necessary to enable Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), which is included with most versions of Windows. Alternatives and equivalents exist for every major operating system.

My Internet source is my WPA encrypted Linksys router, and I need to share it with my La Fonera, which is connected to the Ethernet jack. Sharing can only be enabled for one network device, and it is automatically assumed that every other network device will be bound to it. Note that ICS does not appear as a menu choice unless your computer has at least two enabled networking devices. Under Network Connections, I select the wifi adapter, NOT the Ethernet jack, and enable ICS on the Advanced tab:

Now, what can you use this for? Perhaps you are unable to run an Ethernet cable out to your La Fonera, but are within range of another hotspot which you are permitted to access. Perhaps you would like to provide a Fon hotspot for a group of people, and have a cellular data, WiMax or other wireless modem device to supply the Internet connection. It may even be possible to pay for a connection to an expensive commercial hotspot, and spend a day making some positive income by reselling it at Fon’s cheaper rates to everyone else there. You could even use an existing Fon hotspot; pay for a Fon daily pass, and then resell another Bill’s wifi for your own profit (please get his permission first)!

This arrangement should work to supply at least a basic Internet connection, for WWW and email. It is probably a poor substitute at best, for true WDS meshing, to extend the range of your wifi. Performance will certainly suffer due to latency and the effects of performing NAT behind another NAT. Lastly, ICS does not always recognise unusual network devices, especially ones which require special drivers. Some ISPs may require such drivers to help enforce their one-computer-per-customer Terms of Service.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has milked another wifi hotspot like this. ;)