Fun With FON

6:00 PM -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s deal with WiFi hotspot upstart Fon marks a sea change in wired broadband operator attitudes to public access WiFi in the U.S.

You might recall that Spanish startup FON, which is backed by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Skype Ltd. , and others, allows users that buy its $5 access point to run their own hotspots from their cable or DSL connections. Other FON users get access to the hotspot for free; others pay $3 a day. The user can set how much bandwidth the public is allowed to access.

Now Time Warner is allowing these broadbandits to hang off its network. Consider the fuss kicked up about hotspots and municipal WiFi access by some of the fixed-line operators just a couple of years ago and you'll understand why this is a radical move. (See Philly Council OKs WiFi Plan.)

I wonder if it can last?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

farpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:09:53 PM
re: Fun With FON I was pretty surprised by Time Warner's move until I thought a little bit more about it. Could this be at least part of a new mobility strategy? Some broadband suppliers used to provide dial-up access as part of their service plans. Dial-up is dead, but Wi-Fi is becoming the new default connectivity. Support for FON could be an easy way for cable and DSL providers to offer a desirable feature at what is likely to have only minimal cost (in terms of increased usage) to them.

Thx. Craig.
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