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BT FON – hold the phone, a major telco goes free global community WiFi?


Whoa, this is astonishing news. British Telecom, the behemoth dinosaur telco of the UK, has just announced a mega deal with FON, the free community WiFi service. The upshot of the whole shebang is that BT’s 3 million broadband customers will be encouraged – say that again? – to share WiFi and their home broadband connection between themselves wherever they are. Not only that, but BT has invested in FON. They’re calling it the world’s largest WiFi community. Unbe-chuffin’-lievable. Hold me Ma, I’m having a freak out.

 BT’s more than 3 million consumer Total Broadband customers will be invited to join the global community of people sharing their broadband. At launch, new members will be part of an existing community of 500,000 members and will have access to more than 190,000 FON hotspots worldwide. Anyone joining in will be able to use those FON hotspots across the world and all the new BT FON hotspots free of charge. The revolutionary idea for a massive Wi-Fi community, built by individual people and not a large corporate enterprise, marks BT’s boldest step yet in building extensive broadband coverage outside of the home or office.

Every person who agrees to share a small portion of their home broadband connection, by opening up a separate, secure channel on their wireless router, will be able to share the connection of any other member. BT Total Broadband customers will also be able to use BT’s premium existing hotspot network BT Openzone, including 12 Wireless Cities.

BT FON aims to build a huge community Wi-Fi network, covering hundreds of thousands of hotspots, in a short space of time, under the slogan “Wi-Fi for everyone, I’m in”. The secure open Wi-Fi solution was developed by FON and BT’s research labs. BT has invested in FON as part of the tie-in, joining the company’s other investors, which include Google. BT will also have a seat on the board of FON.

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