I am the CEO and Founder of Fon. Fon has built the largest global WiFi network in the world. We have over 650K WiFi access points distributed in many countries with UK, France and Japan being our best markets. Fon is owned by Ebay, Google, BT, Index Ventures, the management and some other small investors who have invested a total of 36 million euros in the company. The basic idea behind Fon is that “you share a little wifi at home and you roam the world for free connecting to other Fon routers known as Foneras”. Fon´s revenues come from people who do not share wifi at home yet they find Fon WiFi signal and want to use it. Fon operates alone or in partnerships with telcos such as BTFon, or SFRfon and many others. After 3 years of operation Fon is becoming a profitable company in the last quarter of this year.
Now Ubiquisys makes Femto cells. Femto cells are a great idea. Its the same concept as a Fonera meaning a box that is connected to ADSL/Cable/Fiber internet on one side and sends wireless signal on the other. Except that the wireless signal is 3G, not WiFi.
So you can see a match in the making here. And this is what is going on.
Fon and Ubiquisys have entered a strategic partnership to develop the first “Femto Fonera”, which will provide mobile 3G data and voice access from a wireline broadband connection. You can share this 3G signal securely with other Femto Foneros, just like you share your wifi with the other Foneras. Apart from experiencing high quality voice and data connectivity at thousands of community hotspots, Femto Foneros could also enjoy tariff discounts from their mobile operator.
The Femto Fonera is a cost effective way to increase 3G coverage indoors and enable high bandwidth applications which are not possible through the traditional cellular network. It can also be used in public spaces without interfering with the operator’s macro network.
Ubiquisys is currently the number 1 femtocell vendor. Their ZoneGate femtocell offers the best performance of any femtocell, it is the smallest and it consumes very little energy. The Femto Foneras, like the femtocells, will require no setup, they will have no buttons and require no admin software. They will be supplied through a specific mobile operator which would be providing the spectrum. The Femto Foneras will detect the user’s presence, which opens up many possibilities for location based applications and services. This Android app, for example, changes the home screen and the applications available when you enter your home and the phone seamlessly connects to the femtocell. Fon and Ubiquisys are in talks with several mobile operators to evaluate the Femto Fonera concept.