Fonera SIMPL at Mobile World Congress 2010

Posted by – February 17, 2010

FON is creating an open WiFi roaming network to cover the whole planet. At Mobile World Congress they are showing the new FON router that will be used by 3G carriers to give to consumers and upgrade the software functionality of smart phones to be able to carry some of the heavy video playback over WiFi networks rather than using up all the 3G bandwidth for that type of activity.

My opinions on the Fonera SIMPL:

I think it’s awesome, it looks like a new mass market design for the Fonera+, with WiFi 802.11n, a faster processor, a built-in Mobile log-in user interface in the pre-installed firmware.

I think the courageous carriers who may be giving those out for free to their users, should also allow for full WiFi meshing on those routers. Thus really expand the range of the whole city-wide WiFi networks.

And I think that the Android phones need to get a very optimized auto-connect and WiFi city mapping software which should generate precise maps of WiFi coverage, thus a user-generated FON Maps not only generated by the information provided by Fonspot owners, but most importantly information about the range and quality of the signal and the available bandwidth (perhaps a small download and upload can be launched to test bandwidth speeds). This way if you want a map over available 10mbit/s download and 10mbit/s upload connections over WiFi in the city, that whole functionality should be built-in to the next generation of the FON WiFi Maps.

I think that the FON auto-connect app on Android should thus based on knowing where it is, know if it even needs to try to detect WiFi hotspots at all in the proximity. If the user wants to play a lot of video or high bitrate video, the 3G carrier could as well tell the user that only low bitrate may be available over 3G at that specific time but that full bitrate is available at the given FON compatible hotspots.

And also, to more quickly reach global coverage, FON should enable bandwidth specific roaming agreements, so Foneros should be able to roam on “competing” WiFi networks by paying small fees based on specific bandwidth usage. So for example roaming on a certain ISP’s WiFi network may cost 1€ per GB per user and where the Fonero should be able to pay instantly with the eventual FON WiFi money that may be available on the Fonero’s account. For example, Free should be able to auto-charge Foneros 1€ per GB to roam on the whole FreeWiFi network in France, then Orange may join with their Wannadoo Box network as well. And if all ISPs join in that network and do it by opt-out and not by opt-in, then 80% of French cities could be covered by FON compatible WiFi from one day to the next. By enabling roaming fees, the easy connection and affordable WiFi roaming charges are automatic making the connection simpler, and it also encourages ISPs to reach further with more bandwidth to thus make more money. So no credit card payments should be required just to check emails again.

You can discuss this video in the FON forum: