Fon Review

I have been using a Fon router now for over a month. In case you are not aware of Fon – Fon is a company which promotes the sharing of wireless broadband. So, if you have internet access, you can buy a Fon router (for 25usd/eur) at the moment on the Fon site, when you register the router with Fon, you can use that username and password to get Internet access from any Fon router anywhere in the world (and conversely, anyone with a Fon account can get Internet access from your Fon router if they are in your area). Fon has received funding from Google and Skype.

Sound like a good idea? – it is, especially if you travel a lot – or rather, it would be apart from a couple of wrinkles.

When I received my Fon router, there were no instructions with it, no manual, nothing (so no rtfm!). Never fear, said I, I’m a tecchie, how hard can it be? Hah! Three hours later, having spoken to Fon tech support in Spain, I managed to get it up and running. Seemingly, you need to try to register with Fon within 5 minutes of booting up your router, or you don’t get an option to do so until the next router re-boot! This 5 minute thing isn’t mentioned anywhere in their online Fon router registration instructions.

The next wrinkle is that, unless you are travelling to Spain or the US, it is not possible to know where you can find Fon access points. This kind of defeats the purpose of the service! Fon have a page on their site listing about 50 countries, including Ireland, but only the US and Spain are links to maps showing Fon access points in those countries. If I travel to Dublin or London or any place outside of Spain or the US, I can’t take advantage of my Fon account.

One really annoying wrinkle, for me at least, is that every time my computer wakes from sleep, I am blocked from accessing the Internet, until I login to the Fon network again. Logging onto the Fon network is a straightforward enough process, you open a browser window, you are re-directed to the login screen, you login and your Internet access resumes. However, in my case, I have Firefox’s home page set to be a number sites which I visit regularly opening in tabs. If I launch Firefox, after having been logged out of the Fon network, all those tabs open re-directed to the Fon login page – not to the pages I want to have appear.

Worse is that, when you do login, you are not re-directed back to the page you were re-directed from. Instead, you are dropped on a Fon page.

If you think these things are likely to annoy you (and don’t underestimate annoyance factor of having to logon to the Fon network every time your computer wakes up), I’d advise you steer clear of Fon until these wrinkles are ironed out.

[Disclosure – I was given a Fon router by Fon. There were no conditions attached when I was given the router – it was “just try it out and see what you think”]

10 thoughts on “Fon Review”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I think the FON Team is aware of the main issues you mention. By the way, the 5 minutes limit has been increased to 2 hours according to the techies in Madrid.


  2. Thanks Tom for these constructive comments. The FON team is indeed addressing every single one of them.

    Let’s home more ‘beta-testers’ follow your example and share their FON user experience.



  3. Be interesting 2 c if u are still using this in a years time.

    Thats presuming u don’t have 2 have running it on the basis that u get more value (usning other FONs) while u are out-n-bout


  4. Tom, If you are able to use the Devicescape auto-login clients they greatly ease the task of logging into a FON hot-spot or any WiFi network

  5. I was wondering if you tested the Fontenna.
    We are two friends who live in “nearby” apartments in a 12 story building, and we do not want to get two separate internet connections.
    (“near” but in wifi blind spots) Can FON be a good solution ?

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