Upstart Wi-Fi hotspot operator Fon has made its first major play in the U.S. market, announcing a partnership with Time-Warner Cable which lets Time Warner cable subscribers turn their broadband Internet connections into public Wi-Fi hotspots, and lets Time Warner cable customers hop on the Internet via Wi-Fi anywhere in the world Fon has a deal with an ISP, or where a follow “fonero” offering a share of their own broadband connection.
Neither company has disclosed the terms of the deal.
“We are pleased to welcome Time Warner Cable subscribers to the global Fon community,” said Joanna Rees, CEO of Fon U.S., in a release “Success for Fon depends on extending Internet access to our user bases outside the home or office without requiring individuals to rely on costly and problematic remote access solutions.”
When Spanish startup Fon launched, it quickly gained backing from Internet giants Google and Skype, and offered software users could install on their home Wi-Fi routers to share their Internet connections with follow Fon users, dubbed “foneros.” While the system gained some traction in Europe, the difficulty of setting up and maintaining a fonero access point led the company to offer (and sometimes give away) fonero-capable routers: these devices offer two separate channels—one for a private home network and one for access by foneros. Users can control how much of their bandwidth is available to visitors.
Fon’s new deal with Time Warner represents its first major foothold in the U.S. market—Time Warner cable boasts almost 7 million customers in 33 states—and marks a policy shift for the cable company, which has historically frowned on its subscribers sharing their broadband connections with others. Under the new agreement, Time Warner subscribers can opt to share a portion of their bandwidth with foneros via Wi-Fi; in turn, they may access Wi-Fi services offered by fellow foneros around the world, or via ISP with whom Fon has set up agreements.