Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fon something for Latvia?

Bleveland alerts me in a private mail to a campaign in the Nordic countries to give away thousands of FON WiFi routers. FON is a kind of international cooperative, where if you share your hotspot, you get access to FON hotspots around the world. FON was started by an Argentine living in Spain. As described, the FON router allows one to split one's broadband access into a public (shared) and private signal. It is also possible to share in revenue from the use of one's FON router by being something called a BILL (it's all explained on the FON website).
There is no shortage of WiFi hotspots in Riga. A wardrive by the defunct (?) website folks a couple of years ago revealed around 200 or more hotspots in central Riga alone, in around 10 square blocks or less.
I am a bit skeptical because most Latvians are skeptical, even paranoid about anything that looks/claims to be cooperative, shared or free. But maybe I am wrong. This kind of share the bandwidth idea is something that should please the folks who make (a Latvian language blog). I am also interested in what Kristaps Kaupe thinks of this.


Bleveland said...

Forget the coop-thing. You don't have to go to annual meetings and vote for a new leader or something like that nor will the whole kolkhoz starve to death if your internet is down ;-)

The router itself works flawlessly and I replaced my existing home WiFi by the FON router "Fonera" and share about 500 kbps (= adjustable) of my 10 Mb with other FON users. That means if they are within 50 meters of my house and my location does not make that a very big "risk". However, if you live in the central parts of Riga you might even be able to earn a few bucks on it. A guy I know lives in central Barcelona and claims that he makes about € 25 a week on his Fonera (that is about the minimum salary in Latvia isn’t it?).

I do doubt if FON will be that successful though. I like the idea to have access to other FON hotspots, but it requires -of course- that there will be a LOT of them EVERYWHERE. How long will it take before we are there (if ever)? That's what I am sceptical about. On the other hand it doesn't hurt very much to give it a chance. Somewhere it needs to start so to put up a free router was my contribution.

The Argentinean FON guru has somewhat overheated expectations imho. He believes FON will beat the shit out of mobile networks already within a few years…. Time will tell. Don't underestimate the whole thing though. The main investors are Skype and Google and these guys have, as you all know, succeeded before...

About Skype and FON: there is a package available that combines a Skype WiFi phone and a Fonera router.
The price is not really on budget level yet. Heaving said that, for those of you waiting for it, there is still no release of Skype for Symbian as far as I am aware of and the Skype phone mentioned above will work perfectly over Lattelecoms WiFi hot spots as well ;-)

ef said...

It could be nice to know what Kristaps Kaupe thinks about this.

Thats because I got internet connection from company he works for at home, and at time I first started to use they advised not to share my Internet connection. (I have WIFI router at home for my laptop and PC. I hate wires at home environment)

My question is - Can I share my connection with FON router legally with no complaints from ISP?

Bleveland said...

My question is - Can I share my connection with FON router legally with no complaints from ISP?

A good question. It is indeed an issue. In Sweden where I live, ISP's give different answers. Most do have a paragraph in their contract that prohibits you from sharing with anybody not living at your subscriber address. That means that sharing with your wife / children / the dog etc. is OK, but with your neighbour you are officially not allowed to share.

Some of the providers referred to their contract (saying it is not allowed), others said it was officially prohibited, but they had no plans to take legal measures (Telia, by far the largest ISP in Sweden by numbers of subscribers).

And what would they do? Practically there is not much the ISP can do about it. It is up to you to not encrypt / block your WiFi at home and then anybody can log on to your WiFi router anyway. The second question is how they ever would find out. Would they "war drive" and check their entire client database? And then logon your Fonera and send an email to themselves to see if it actually was your IP-address the email came from?

FON is a little bit different since you by an active move (connecting the router) share parts of your internet capacity with other users. It is not just that you "forgot" to switch your WPA or WEP encryption on. On the other hand; FON requires that you actually have an internet connection, at least in case you want to order a router. Virtually they don't keep people from signing with any ISP (that is apart from those who don't share their internet connection and choose to logon a FON router for € 3,- a day).

I am sure some people reading here know more about the legal situation in Latvia. I would guess it is similar i Latvia as in most other countries (that means officially not allowed).

Anonymous said...

Your skepse is well founded due to legal issues. First of all, most ISPs forbid to share the connection (or should I say, forbid to share the profit). Second, when I mentioned FON in my blog, one of the first responses was: "And what if some bad guy use this connection to do some bad things?" Which is a very good point, as I imagine the nightmare of explaining the idea behind FON to a thick-headed Latvian police officer, who hardly knows what a computer is... Bought an Edimax AP for LVL 26 instead.