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Fon Raises $14M

Light Reading
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Light Reading
1/20/2014
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NEW YORK/MADRID -- Fon, the global WiFi sharing network, today announced the completion of its financing totaling $14 million (10.3 million Euros).

Qualcomm Incorporated, through its venture capital arm, Qualcomm Ventures, led the fundraising round, underscoring its relationship with Fon as a strategic investor. Fon is in the process of developing a revolutionary new Fon router that combines social WiFi with social music, based on a chipset from Qualcomm Atheros Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc. This new router is expected to be available from Fon in the first half of 2014. At the same time, Qualcomm Atheros is integrating Fon as a feature, available via SDK for its chipsets, making it easier for WiFi router manufacturers who use Qualcomm Atheros’ chipsets to integrate Fon.

Other investors participating in the round include Fon’s existing investors: Index Ventures, Google, Coral, Atomico and Deutsche Telekom (DT).

“The amount of this round and the caliber of investors will propel us into our next stage of growth,” said Martin Varsavsky, CEO, Fon. “We are excited about our new relationship with Qualcomm, which is an amazing company and a leader in mobile data communication. By integrating Fon into Qualcomm Atheros’ chipsets, more devices and systems will be automatically equipped to be part of Fon’s global WiFi network.”

“Fon’s unique approach to crowd-sourcing WiFi is going to play an increasingly instrumental role in the future of mobile data,” said Miles Kirby, senior director for Qualcomm Ventures. “Qualcomm is leading the 1000x mobile data challenge, and Fon fits perfectly into our vision to solving the increasing demand for data.”

Fon has grown 50% this year and now stands at over 12 million WiFi hotspots. With its crowd-sourced approach of converting existing WiFi hotspots into community hotspots, Fon has blanketed entire countries with near ubiquitous WiFi coverage. In countries such as UK, France and Belgium, more than 10% of households have a Fon hotspot. Other regions such as Japan and Brazil are catching up as well. Fon has calculated that it has significant coverage in more than 1,000 major cities, making Fon the world’s largest WiFi operator in municipalities.

Fon often collaborates with leading telcos to reach high levels of penetration in a country. With this approach, Fon has seen tremendous success in Europe and Asia, and is now looking to build its footprint by intensifying its focus in the United States.

Fon will use the funds to build out its presence in the U.S. as well as expand its reach into new geographies worldwide. It will also fund new product development, including a new Fon router and its newly developed “WiFi for Business”, a WiFi solution for Small and Medium Businesses that is expanding the concept of Social WiFi into businesses.

“We expect to reach 35 million WiFi hotspots by 2016,” said Varsavsky. “Our recent expansion in the U.S. and projects such as our work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to provide downtown Brooklyn residents, businesses and public with free WiFi are all a part of the strategy to reach that goal.”

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