For those of you residing in Europe, you’ve probably heard a lot about Fon. The company operates the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, consisting of over 12 million different hotspots. The system essentially works by having registered members share a portion of their bandwidth, in exchange for having access to any other members’. This massive “Wi-Fi community” first launched in Europe in 2007, reached Japan in 2011, and is now making its official debut in the US.
As of today, interested parties can purchase the specialized router on either Amazon.com or through the company website for $59. Fon has also opened up a new office in New York City to head up the transition to US markets.
So why did it take so long for Fon to target American customers? CEO of Fon US, Nina Sodhi, told GigaOM that Europeans and Americans share very different ideologies. In general, Europeans use Wi-Fi as the preferred method to connect their tablet or smartphone to the web, while those in the US are more reliant on cellular data plans.
However, now that U.S companies such as Comcast are starting to embrace the concept of shared Wi-Fi, Fon realizes that it must act sooner rather than later. Sodhi added, “It really jumpstarted thinking about community Wi-Fi in the US.”
To help scale its services, Fon is hoping to join forces with several US carriers. Fon has already established a deal with AT&T; however, this partnership currently only applies to international roaming. Sodhi has mentioned that discussions with numerous carriers and ISPs are ongoing.