I posted a video about the Fonera SIMPL at Mobile World Congress: http://22.214.171.124/2010/02/17/fon-at-mobile-world-congress-2010/
The Fonera SIMPL is a WiFi 802.11N router, takes in WAN outputs LAN, creates 2 WiFi hotspots, one WPA password protected and the other Open WiFi with Web browser authentication through the FON system, so only users that are members of FON can logon. The Fonera SIMPL (I guess) probably only costs around $15-20 to mass manufacture, FON has gotten orders for it by Telecom companies in excess of 400’000 units.
The idea here is that soon enough, everyone may be sharing their home ADSL, Cable or Fiber internet connections on the worldwide FON WiFi sharing network. When you share at home, you roam the world for free on all over more than 1 million active FON WiFi hotspots. See the FON Maps at http://maps.fon.com/. Many cities already have thousands of such FON WiFi hotspots available. Not covering the whole City with FON WiFi, but with a few thousand more such Fonera SIMPL routers distributed in each city by telecoms, and with other ISPs (such as BT in England, Neuf in France and some others in other countries) remotely firmware upgrading their customers existing WiFi routers to add the FON WiFi roaming functionality, the cities of the world could be pretty close to have ubiquituous WiFi coverage.
The idea is that Android and iPhone type smart phones consume far too much bandwidth for regular 3G cellular networks to be able to support that. Especially with people streaming Youtube, Ustream, Video-on-demand, video-conferencing, high bitrate VOIP and more bandwidth intensive mobile applications. So FON in pertnership with the Telecom carriers will provide software for Android and the iPhone that more seamlessly automatically switches over to the FON WiFi hotspots for bandwidth intensive tasks. WiFi also consumes less battery than 3G so that will help on battery runtime as well.
My hope is that FON and the Telecoms agree to load WiFi meshing technology on these routers, apply smart roaming charges and rebates, so nabours also can buy these to extend the range of the WiFi hotspots throughout the city. Also, I wonder if the unlicenced (to be decided soon by politicians around the world) 700mhz White Spaces based technology could be integrated in such cheap and compact routers, and used by Google to thus cover whole cities with mobile broadband using the 700mhz spectrum both as back-end and through meshing as well to connect with devices in the streets. See my video-interview filmed at LeWeb in December 2009 with Martin Varsavsky: http://126.96.36.199/2009/12/12/peekfon-martin-varsavsky-interview/
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- Thanks to BT FON, BT’s WiFi Network Reaches One Million Hotspots (english.martinvarsavsky.net)
- FON at Mobile World Congress 2010 (armdevices.net)
- 2010: the Year of WiFi, the Year of FON (english.martinvarsavsky.net)
- Fonera SIMPL aims to ease 3G overload, give smartphones a better way to upload (engadget.com)
- FON, the iPhone and Mobile Operators (english.martinvarsavsky.net)