Via Roland Tanglao: FON allows users to share their WiFi networks with other users. They're launching in Spain, but according to Joi Ito they plan to push out worldwide.
The idea is interesting: If you have DSL, most of the time you're using only a tiny fraction of your available bandwidth. Why not give some of your extra bandwidth to that guy sitting in the café next door who is going online via an expensive UMTS connection? If you think of VoIP (read: Skype) via WLAN, it's getting even more interesting.
In Germany, sofanetworks is trying the same. They have a slightly different focus though, as they also target to neighbours who want to share their Internet connection using a WLAN. So they not only want to save you costs while you're on the road, they even want to let you save your home DSL connection.
Will FON and/or sofanetworks succeed? I'm still skeptical. One reason is security. What if the people who I share my Internet connection with will download illegal content from the Web? I'm sure both companies address this concern. But will users take on the hassle of learning more about the security situation or will they just stay away from the offer? The upside, after all, is rather limited: A share of the revenues generated with the user's WiFi (which I assume will be a few bucks per month in most cases), plus the promise of being part of a movement which kicks the big telcos in their pants.
Another reason why I'm not convinced yet is that they need a large critical mass of customers in order to successfully match connection sharers with connection users. At least, FON's founder Martin Varsavsky has experience with that: Before founding FON, he founded telephone company Jazztel and Internet portal Ya.com in Spain, both of which became large companies.
BTW, are you a "Bill" or a "Linus"? At FON, you can decide if you want to become a "Bill" or a "Linus". Bills get 50% of the revenues generated through their WiFis. Linuses, on the other hand, don't get the revenue share but in exchange they get free roaming among the FON network.