Whisher, WiFi sharing, a la Fon
Fon now has a rival. The Spanish wireless network, founded and managed by Martin Varsavsky, backed by Google and Skype, and claimed as the largest free WiFi hotspot network, has a rival. The rival? Another Spanish startup. Indeed.
Whisher (a name that reminds more shopping lists than WiFi hotspots), backed by Benchmark Capital Europe and Swisscom, mimics the Fon’s business model. The company doesn’t deploy any network, but asks users to set their own access point compatible with the Whisher network. So instead of buying a new router, you just need to download the software that turns your existing WiFi router into a shareable Whisher router —
a technique that Fon used to do before providing its own routersWhisher routers don’t need to be flashed, corrected Ferran Moreno.
Wisher members would get free access to hotspots of the network. For now, just Windows and Mac users could make the switch (i.e. closed code software). Another difference with Fon is that community members can’t resell their Internet access.
This similarities could be predictable. Whisher’s founder Ferran Moreno and Fon’s CEO Martin Varsavsky set the business model together, although the later denies the former, reports Business 2.0 blog. Om Malik calls it “wishful thinking, given its limited utility and even more limited business prospects.”
For Glenn Fleishman, both companies don’t share “similar goals. Whisher can work if 10,000 people adopt it (although it may not be affordable to develop). Fon requires at least large clusters of its network nodes for the utility to be great enough. Put this way, if I only use Whisher to connect at networks run by a dozen friends, it’s still highly useful—less management, less fuss, and I get file transfer with those friends when I’m on their network. With Fon, if I go to a new city and can’t find a convenient Fon location, all my Linusing—freely sharing my Fon connection—is for naught. These are definitely not the same models or utilities.”
Us: Whisher isn’t the first company to dish up a software to share your bandwidth and centralized logins. WiFree, a Spanish open source project that we covered last year, has been providing such a software for a while. Fon built its traction because it brings a sort of “win-win” situation, in which home users or small business owners could resell their Internet access. And several months ago, Fon claimed it reached the critical mass it needed. Without other incentive than hanging out on other WiFi nodes, Whisher wants this kind of community. We don’t think it would.
Jan 31, 2007 | By Nuno