Madrid-based start-up FON has big plans: It wants to build a global WiFi community which would allow members to share WiFi hotspots so they can access the Internet while traveling. Some big names have given it big money: Skype, Google and others have invested $21 million in the company. FON will enable its users to synchronize their home WiFi hotspots so that, if they have paid for a broadband connection at home, they will have instant access to all the other hotspots on the FON network. It is thus clear why Skype and Google would be interested in the company, as its application would allow customers to more frequently use applications such as Skype's phone service or Google Maps and Google Talk. Services such as those offered by Skype and Google become even more attractive if users can access them on the go and on different devices.
FON's service was officially launched this week but has been in trails for more than two months. It already has 3,000 users. FON offers customers free software to download to their computers, which will then open up their WiFi routers, allowing password-protected access for others. The service currently is compatible only with Linksys routers but will soon be available for other routers. The company wants to become the world's largest provider of hotspots by the end of this year, and Google and Skype bet that it will achieve this goal.