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Monday, February 06, 2006

Fon Secures €18 Million from Skype, Sequoia & Google

FON today announced that it has secured €18 million funding from Index Ventures, Google, Sequoia Capital and Skype. The company also announced that Danny Rimer (Index Ventures), Mike Volpi (Cisco) Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (Skype) joined the board.

Founded just three months ago by serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, FON’s objective is to build a global WiFi network bottom up, with one million hot spots by 2010. To do this, FON users, or "foneros," are able to connect to the Internet via Fon WiFi hotspots provided by other foneros. For foneros, the development of the FON global network means they will be able to connect to the Internet safely and securely all around the globe. For service and application providers such as Skype and Google, the FON network makes their services more available. For ISPs, FON provides a way to expand their reach globally.

With a simple download-and-install approach, similar to Skype’s, FON is a secure “by-the-people, for-the-people” network. FON has registered 3,000 members since it went live with a beta of its service in November, 2005. The company plans to use its funding to grow the network of foneros and support the growth of WiFi worldwide, particularly in countries where broadband is currently unaffordable to most people.

FON will drive its revenue from a multi-tiered subscription model. Members sign up in one of three foneros categories: Linus, Bill or Alien.
Linuses share their home WiFi hotspot with the FON network and can use any FON hotspot for free.
Bill's share their WiFi hotspots with Alien members for a fee. Bills cannot roam the FON network for free.
Aliens pay to use the FON network on an as-needed basis. Fifty-percent of revenue generated from Aliens will be shared with Bills. Alien memberships are currently available on a free-trial basis.

“Aliens are at the heart of our business model,” said Varsavsky. “As we continue to grow, we will attract consumers for all three foneros categories and achieve our goal of creating a global WiFi nation. This is a great opportunity for ISP’s, bloggers, developers, early adopters, consumer electronics manufacturers and the ‘average Joe or Jane’ with a WiFi connection to make money by letting other foneros connect to the Net safely and simply.”

ISPs are already signing up to partner with FON. “As a leading ISP in Sweden, Glocalnet is happy to partner with FON .

Power Foneros
FON has attracted the likes of some of the technology communities’ leading advocates. The well regarded blogger/former newspaper columnist Dan Gillmor and telecom expert David Isenberg have already signed on to serve on the company’s board of advisors, as has Esther Dyson, the well-known blogger Joi Ito and many others. For a complete list check this


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