Introducing the BT FON Community

by Ragnar Schierholz

British telecom (BT) and FON Community today announced that BT is partnering up with FON. While many telco's run their own networks of wifi hotspots (e.g. Swisscom Mobile, T-Mobile) and probably consider the community their competitor, BT apparently goes a different route.

"We have integrated FON in BT and now more than more than 3 million Total Broadband customers are invited to join the enormous global community of people sharing their WiFi."

3 million new Foneros just like that? At first that sounds like a smart move for Fon. But has BT really thought this through? Are customers actually asked whether they want to join and do they have choice to say no? Then probably those 3 million will turn out to be significantly less. As usual, I'm not a legal expert, but this sounds to me like a change of contract conditions which would mean BT's broadband customers could more or less immediately terminate their contract if they don't want to become Fonero's and BT doesn't want to keep them as non-Fonero's. And what if these BT customers choose to become Bills, does BT get a share as well?

And of course one would hope that BT really makes sure that the WLAN routers they deliver are properly secured. With such a deployment they should soon become an interesting target for all those blackhats out there.

Update: Well, on the new communty's website there's the answer to the question. Existing BT broadband customers must opt-in to become Foneros. And if they don't, they can buy vouchers via BT and so BT does get their share. Thanks for the hint, "verum blogatis"


I subscribe to BT, but this appears to be a great way to get roaming wireless. A Fon wireless access point looks to be the alternative way to join this scheme. At €34 that's pretty cheap wireless. I looked at their map of Cambridge (where I live), and there's already a lot of access points. If you factor in say 5% of BT subscribers, that's becomes pretty good coverage.

Chris Lindley, 2007-10-05

(Is adding multiple comments allowed?) According to the Wikipedia entry on Fon my ISP (Virgin Media) purposely forbids the usage of Fon. Pretty poor behaviour. Virgin Media is the largest Cable (non-ADSL) ISP in the UK.

Chris Lindley, 2007-10-05

and the wikipedia page doesn't list BT yet. I am not going to change it because I own The UK's first Fon friendly ISP.

Alan Bell, 2007-10-06

FON seems to be the next big thing, right? Although I don´t think anybody would be interested in accesing the web out in the uncharted backwaters of rural Germany where I live, except for me ;-)

Armin Roth, 2007-10-07

Armin, I'm a little careful with the usage of terms like "the next big thing". FON's been around for a while already and despite it being "the largest WiFi community in the world" (according to their own claims), it's still not as wide spread as it would have to be to be a reliable means of internet access for roaming users. But I think it's a good idea and I like to see it grow. Especially this kind of partnerships could actually be a good move towards mass coverage.

Yes, there may be very few people who want to access the internet in your area, besides those who live there. That's why the commercial providers don't go there for WiFi hotspots, it simply doesn't pay off. But nevertheless there might be people coming along who may want to use it everynow and then. And for those, FON could be a solution. IMHO, that's all there is to it.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-10-07

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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