Steve Jobs keen on a world where people share WiFi

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is reportedly "very interested" in a world where people share their WiFi connections in return for free access to other wireless hotspots in their communities, and recently met with the founder of upstart provider FON, whose business aims might just dovetail with the iPhone maker.



Jobs had previously read about FON, the latest venture of Argentinean new media entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, which launched in November 2005 under mantra "WiFi for everyone." It sells routers that have been designed to enable subscribers to share their home WiFi access in a more secure manner by splitting a traditional WiFi signal into two separate channels -- one for broadband internet access and another to share with fellow subscribers.



Backed by the likes of Google, Skype and Sequoia Capital, FON rose quickly to claim the title of the world?s largest WiFi community, surpassing T-Mobile of Germany within its first year in business. Appreciative of its success, Jobs expressed interest in a sit-down with Varsavsky, which eventually took place earlier this month in Jobs' top-floor office at Apple headquarters in Cupertino.



"He was very interested in FON; the meeting went on for an hour and a half," said Varsavsky, who described Jobs as appearing "trim" and "fit" in his ripped blue jeans and black hooded sweatshirt. "He's extremely curious. He asks a lot of questions. He's not the nicest guy -- I mean his questions are inquisit [sic] to say the least. He's to the point."



FON's community is comprised of two types of members or "Foneros," called "Linuses" and "Bills." Both are registered FON users who share bandwidth with other Foneros and in return get free WiFi roaming on all FON Spots throughout the FON Community around the world. Unlike a Linus, however, a Bill receives money from FON when Aliens -- or unregistered users -- purchase FON Passes that FON sells on their FON Spot.



"I really think [Jobs] liked the idea of FON. I think he loves the idea of a world where people share WiFi. That I could tell," Varsavsky said. "I think he would like for there to be an opporunity for everyone to share WiFi."



Unlike traditional WiFi routers, FON's "La Fonera" hardware solves security issues by creating both a private and a public network. It protects the user?s connection with two secured WiFi signals: one encrypted WiFi signal that is only for the user?s own private use, and a second one that requires authentication and is for all other registered Foneros.



"Overall, I would say it was a very positive meeting that started as a difficult one and ended up with more comfort and great deal of understanding on the part of Steve and his two other colleges of him who were at the meeting on what FON was like," Varsavsky added.







Earlier this month, FON and British Telecom struck a landmark deal that could potentially open the floodgates for further adoption of FON over in Europe. As part of the arrangement, British Telecom agreed to flash FON's software on all its Total Broadband Wi-Fi routers in the U.K., inviting 3 million more customers to opt into the FON Service. The announcement came just days after France's Neuf Cegetel launched a similar partnership with FON, whereby 600,000 Neuf WiFi boxes throughout France were flashed with FON software.



Apple, of course, sells its own brand of AirPort WiFi routers. However, Jobs's interest in FON may be driven by the prospect of ubiquitous WiFi access for owners of his company's new iPhone and iPod Touch handhelds.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    I wonder if any hardware changes are necessary, or if Apple could just make the change in software to support FON.
  • Reply 2 of 60
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,972member
    I like this idea--I hope Apple gets behind it if it can done with full security (which it sounds like it can).



    I also like this guy's assessment of Jobs--it seems spot on. An intense guy you want to work with if you see things the same way, but not the guy you want to drink a beer with. (He'll never be president of the US--that seems to be what most voters want in a prez.)
  • Reply 3 of 60
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,972member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sworthy View Post


    I wonder if any hardware changes are necessary, or if Apple could just make the change in software to support FON.





    It sounds like hardware to me. from the article:

    Quote:

    Unlike traditional WiFi routers, FON's "La Fonera" hardware solves security issues by creating both a private and a public network. It protects the user?s connection with two secured WiFi signals:



  • Reply 4 of 60
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    I can only wonder whether this keenest on Jobs part is a result of the prospective gPhone, by Google, and how Google is alining itself in the market?
  • Reply 5 of 60
    As far as I know, here in Belgium, most broadband contracts don't allow to share a DSL connection with other people let alone sell connection time
  • Reply 6 of 60
    As you know BT have teamed up with FON and I think that is a great idea and attractive offer



    http://www.btfon.com/
  • Reply 7 of 60
    deepdeep Posts: 13member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


    It sounds like hardware to me. from the article:



    I think he meant on the Apple device side (iPhone/Touch/x).
  • Reply 8 of 60
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    I Britain the Police have been arresting people for "Stealing airtime" it's not actually an offence but they just charge them under the computer missuse act. I don't know what even Mr Jobs can do about that!
  • Reply 9 of 60
    As a FON user, I have to say that it really is a great system. Small, inexpensive, and simple enough that your mom/grandma could set it up without help. The quantity of FON hotspots is a bit limited in the US, and their map to find hotspots could use some work, but they have updated several times since I joined two years ago, and progress is being made.



    I have been recommending them to all the people who come up and ask me what they need to do to get wireless in their house. (Really, it would be best if businesses in downtown areas used them, as the number of people benefiting would be greater, but I do get people logged in to mine at home on occasion).
  • Reply 11 of 60
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    I hope Sj browses this forum and especially this thread.



    There's this thing called WiMAX. Have you heard of it? It being pushed by your buddy Paul over at Intel. They're even going to support it on the next chipset for the iPhone.



    You really ought to give it a look.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...the latest venture of Argentinean new media entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky...



    It's ARGENTINE, not "Argentinean". Lived in BA for 4 yrs and wish people would get this right. Everything does not have to end in "an" (Chilean, American, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Brazillian, etc.)
  • Reply 13 of 60
    Yikes. Welcome to the forums.
  • Reply 14 of 60
    dr_lhadr_lha Posts: 236member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zacamjo View Post


    It's ARGENTINE, not "Argentinean". Lived in BA for 4 yrs and wish people would get this right. Everything does not have to end in "an" (Chilean, American, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Brazillian, etc.)



    Actually both forms are correct (except its spelled Argentinian). Look it up in your Apple dictionary if you don't believe me.
  • Reply 15 of 60
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    I hope Sj browses this forum and especially this thread.



    There's this thing called WiMAX. Have you heard of it? It being pushed by your buddy Paul over at Intel. They're even going to support it on the next chipset for the iPhone.



    You really ought to give it a look.



    I like WiMax also (being a CLWR stockholder), but line of sight is a big issue. It will keep WiMax from widespread adoption in cities.
  • Reply 16 of 60
    also, "colleges" = "colleagues"?



    just trying to be helpful
  • Reply 17 of 60
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sworthy View Post


    I wonder if any hardware changes are necessary, or if Apple could just make the change in software to support FON.



    I'm wondering if this could be simulated via software, although I'm sure it wouldn't be as secure as if it would be two seperate modules.



    -Clive
  • Reply 18 of 60
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,972member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by deep View Post


    I think he meant on the Apple device side (iPhone/Touch/x).



    Ahhhh, I thought he was refering to the AirPort side of things--broadcasting the connection.



    In terms of the device side I assume it would adhere to standards so as to have the widest possible reach. But I don't know...
  • Reply 19 of 60
    One of the problems with sharing your net connection freely over WiFi is liability.



    What if some disturbed individual parks in front of your house and uses your open WiFi to download child pornography onto his laptop? Some server out there will have *YOUR* IP as the address that downloaded the data.



    When the server gets busted, the authorities will come after YOU for child porn. Do you really want to deal with that?



    A less extreme example would be your neighbor running p2p file sharing all day, causing you to get one of those threat letters from the RIAA.



    That's the problem with being generous with your connection. Anything illegal done on it by "war drivers" can come back to haunt you later.
  • Reply 20 of 60
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I like WiMax also (being a CLWR stockholder), but line of sight is a big issue. It will keep WiMax from widespread adoption in cities.



    I may be asking for a lot but what will really unlock the potential of the iPhone is having a 'wireless' signal anywhere, anytime with speeds that are equivalent to todays wireless networks (802.11g).



    Don't know about the line of sight issue with WiMAX but it looks like the only thing available that will get us there.
Sign In or Register to comment.