Google & Skype Investing in FON WiFi
What is FON? No it’s not a Spanish dessert – that’s flan – although it is based in Spain.
FON is an effort to build a global Wi-Fi network of hotspots with existing broadband connectivity — “members” are referred to as “Foneros”. These can be established ISPs as well as individuals. Google, eBay/Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures invested $22 million in the effort.
Here’s an AP article explaining FON, as well as identifying some of the potential challenges to the realization of FON’s objectives.
Here are the FAQs and here are some of the interesting people (scroll) behind FON.
Both Google and Skype have a keen interest in seeing Wi-Fi/broadband proliferate. Whether FON ultimately takes the place of the hypothetical GoogleNet initiative is unclear. And whether FON ultimately succeeds or fails, the development of low-cost or free-access broadband networks will undoubtedly continue.
In terms of the local angle, obviously a Wi-Fi hotspot provides precise location information and would allow for more geographically relevant organic or paid search results (without a user inputting location information).
Broadband is of critical importance to anyone whose business model is tied to the Internet. And we’ll be examining the state of and outlook for continued broadband growth on the panel “The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?” on day 1 of Drilling Down.
Here’s Om Malik’s post on the investment (he’ll be speaking on the broadband panel mentioned above BTW).
Greg Sterling is managing editor of The Kelsey Group. He also leads The Kelsey Group’s the Interactive Local Media program, focusing on local search. Greg came to The Kelsey Group from TechTV’s “Working the Web,” the first national television show dedicated to e-business and the Internet.