Femtocell developer combines with WiFi community to go 'open'

In a radical departure from the conventional cellular business model, the femtocell vendor, Ubiquisys, has joined with the WiFi community, FON, to offer like-minded users spare 3G capacity within a secure and shared environment.

The concept is based on the existing community WiFi pioneer FON, which offers free access to users who agree to share spare capacity with others within range of a WiFi node. This latest move by Ubiquisys would allow mobile operators to create mobile communities, in which spare 3G capacity would be again be shared securely.

Presently, FON community members, known as Foneros, share some of their home internet connection and in return gain access to free Community FON Spots around the world. While this would appear to directly attack the revenue streams of fixed-line operators, FON has managed to persuade major operators like BT to partner with it to extend the reach of its services.

Ubiquisys claims it is in discussion with a number of mobile operators to evaluate the concept whereby the 3G service provider retains full control of access . This would enable the operator to use the femtocell's presence to trigger authentication to support different services for the primary user and the community users.

Chris Gilbert, CEO Ubiquisys, said that femtocells introduced new elements to the community concept, "making the experience for users even simpler, providing a lightweight architecture for presence-based community applications, and adding the reassurance of the existing trust relationship with mobile operators."

For more on this story:
Rethink Wireless

Related stories:
Femtocells: Ubiquisys raises US$11m in readiness for upsurge
BT invests in FON, WiFi
FON WiFi Community welcomes 1,000,000th member
European Femtocell Deployment Status