Start-up Gets Backing from Google, Skype

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FON Technology SL, a new Madrid-based Internet connection sharing start-up that allows home web users to share their wifi connections, has received 18 million euros ($21.7 million) in funding from Google, eBay’s Skype, as well as two venture capital firms. Dubbed “Foneros,” participants register with FON and install special software on their wifi routers, turning them into accessible hotspots.

“Now how do we plan to make money at FON?” asks CEO Martin Varsavsky on the company’s blog, “…we plan to make money with characters we call the Aliens. To us the world is divided into Linus, Bills and Aliens. A Linus shares his/her bandwidth for free with other Foneros, Bills share their bandwidth for a small fee, and Aliens don’t share their bandwidth at all.” Accorting to Varsavsky, Aliens pay a small access fee, equivalent to the rate of a “subway or bus ticket.” From a security standpoint, all FON users are registered and identifiable.

The FON network currently has more than 3,000 registered participants, and in just three short months has reached 10% of its goal to become one of the world’s largest global hotspot networks.

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