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BT encourages customers to share badnwidth October 7, 2007

Posted by Al in : Internet , trackback

This is an unusual step for any ISP – encouraging their customers to share their bandwidth, which would only lead to more congestion upstream. However, the FON system has been a huge success in Spain, and is now starting to roll out around the world – mainly due to it’s ability to offer users free WiFi access through any other FON hotspot.

The idea itself is simple, yet clever – which is often one of the best litmus tests for success. Each broadband customer gets a FON wireless router which provides 2 separate networks: one for the customer, and one for any external FON user. The external network provides Internet access, but with bandwidth limitations (to prevent the customer’s connection becoming unusable) and is secured so that the external user cannot gain access to the customer’s local network. Each FON router acts as a wireless hotspot and all other FON users can connect through it for free, and non-FON users can connect for a small charge. This provides the possibility of massive coverage for the ISP in question, and could also be a new source of revenue with the small charges levied against non-FON users.

In the UK, BT are the first to embrace this idea, and they will be offering FON routers to their customers shortly. I rather hope that Virginmedia decide to do the same thing as I hardly use any of my 20Mb/s connection, and I’d be happy to make some of that bandwidth available to others, providing there was some good security in place. And security may well be the rub, as I would imagine that as FON hotspots grow then more people will become interested in gaining access to this bandwidth for free: I wonder how long it would be before someone announces some form of crack to allow connection to FON routers without having to give anything back.


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