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FON – Community Wifi for free

I’d been looking at FON for a while now and decided to initially register as an Alien to see what its all about, then decided to take the plunge and order my own La Fonera, their own router, based on OpenWRT software. The basic idea is that you install the route, register it and it creates 2 wireless networks. The first is your private network that you can protect using any of the regular mechanisms, WEP, WPA, etc. The second wireless network is for the public WiFi hotspot that other Foneros (what they call FON members) can access. Having your own router entitles you to free access at any of the other FON hotspots. Without your own router you can still access other hotspots, but for only 15 minutes per day for free and as much as you like if you buy passes to allow access.

All users who access your network must be registered FON users and since BT have now partnered with FON, the number of hotspots is likely to grow over the next few months. You get a log of who has been connecting and also where you have connected to on your travels.

Currently, registered users sharing their Wifi can recommend a number of people to allow them to purchase their own routers for less than 5 GBP. If you also add the extended range antenna, you can get the whole package for around 6 GBP. Not bad considering the full price is around 20 GBP. There is an updated router complete with an extra ethernet port that is not available at the discounted price, but is still a reasonable 33 GBP. Prices quoted are converted from Euros and may vary depending on exchange rates, they also dont include VAT and shipping. I am tempted to get another at the discounted price.

The only downside I have found so far is that I’m not able to get one of my wireless devices connected to the new router, but I’m now looking at re-designing my whole home network to get round this and also solve a couple of outstanding issues at the same time.

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