WiFree challenges FON’s idea

We covered FON and the buzz made out of his venture investors (Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital). Now, meet its new competitor, WiFree.

What is it?

WiFree logo

A wireless free network. WiFree.

What does it provide?

A free Internet connection for all. WiFree could be the right complement to the RedLibre, a Spanish open wireless network.

So, can I use it?

As long as your laptop can receive WiFi signals. The users log in open nodes set by WiFree members at no charges and without any special restriction. The wireless WiFree network is more comparable to a mesh network than a hotspot one. Every signal jumps from an access point to another before reaching the desired node.

WiFree principle

As WiFree members are from Spain, the whole network doesn’t extend outside their territory. Their interactive map shows the 20-something nodes currently available. You can help them spread it. All you have to do is take your Linksys WRT54G/GS (the same as Fon’s routers), download the automatic installer to turn your wireless router into a WiFree access point.

Bear also in mind that as for Fon, Internet service provider might not like the idea of a free wireless share connection.

WiFree login interface

It looks they are doing Fon’s business?

Not at all! On their wiki, the opinion is all the most clear: “Banning of free wireless communities by Fon.” “[Fon] seems to be a technoanarquist and revolutionary affair but it costs you 5 euros/hour for providing you access to the Internet.”

WiFree community is very linked to the GNU/Linux one. When they say “free”, it means both free as a ‘beer’ and as a ‘speech’.

Does Fon have to fear about WiFree?

Probably not. First, because no extra-large wireless network covers a country such as Spain, leaving many empty space without wireless access. Fon and WiFree would coexist without any clash, we assume.

Second: because Fon network also provides free access. That’s their Linus level, where any router master could go for a free bandwidth sharing.

The key variable is how many Fon members will turn to charged connection ― the Bill level. That is the way Fon makes money. And we bet that it has already set some plans to lure its affiliate members into wireless providers.

Feb 21, 2006 | By Nuno

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  • #0 Whisher, WiFi sharing, a la Fon – 21talks (pingback):
  • […] 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. […]

21talksTracking the telecoms evolution