updated 03:55 pm EDT, Thu October 12, 2006
FON La Fonera WiFi Router
The fledgling Internet service provider FON has caught the notice of many by promoting a uniquely egalitarian access method. Instead of establishing its own infrastructure, FON encourages users of existing Internet connections to open their access to others by purchasing a public WiFi access point from the company. The latest element of that strategy was announced today in the form of the La Fonera wireless router. A replacement for an earlier model, the access point differentiates itself by separating the Internet connection into public and private arenas: two different wireless network IDs are broadcast, with one reserved only for the WiFi host and another available to customers. This improves security, says FON, and also lets the owner customize the bandwidth available to outsiders.
This dual environment is also the key to FON's pricing and its impact on WiFi adoption. While the general public must pay $3 per day to access the connection, purchasing a La Fonera router for $5 gives free access to other members' access points -- spurring users to offer their own access instead of simply relying on others. The La Fonera is available now and will be demonstrated in New York and San Francisco later this month.