Thursday, 4 October 2007

Is Fon the new www?

The brilliance of the www is that it is basically powered 'for free' by its users (well, by the ones that have servers attached to it anyway). It can grow in an (almost) limitless way and it's free to all.

Today, BT announced a deal which had echoes of the www to me. BT has taken a stake (referred to as 'substantial') in FON (where Google and Skype are also shareholders). BT Broadband customers can now join the FON WiFi network whereby they share a part of their home Broadband WiFi connection with other FON users. So that (potentially) adds 3m nodes to FON's WiFi network. In return for sharing their Broadband, they get free access to FON's 190,000 WiFi Hotspots worldwide.

The potential for this is huge. Take something like the new iPod Touch with its WiFi connection. You could now use that (potentially) across a huge swath of the UK (probably seamlessly throughout the whole of London). A 'free' connection which would allow VOIP calls too (hence the Skype connection) with no need to pay a mobile operator. Same applies to many of the new handsets (including the iPhone) which will connect to free WiFi wherever that is available.

Now that must be causing a shudder down the spines of the mobile operators. Perhaps BT will soon make up for Bonfield's 'mistake' of quitting the mobile sector when it sold Cellnet(now O2)

I am sure there are many issues to overcome but, to me, this is one of the boldest and exciting moves I've seen in a long while towards achieving Holway's ultimate "Martini Moment".

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