FON squashed overnight…

…and nobody seems to be talking about it.

For a while FON bragged how it was able to surpass the wifi networks of Telefonica and others in one fell swoop. Well, in an even bigger fell swoop, French ADSL provider free has simply opened up the wifi networks for its customers with the latest version of its set-top box (the ‘freebox’), allowing them to roam on each others’ networks and make free phone calls.

FON was proud to go from zero to 100,000 access points (most of which were never even activated) in under a year.

But Free has gone from zero to 300,000 overnight.

Imagine if Telefonica, or France Telecom, or Verizon – companies with tens of millions of customers, were to follow the example of free….

I think all this highlights that operators still have a lot of leverage here to make things happen, and quickly, *if* they have the will to do it. For FON, this should be a clear warning that bypassing the operators to go directly to the people will be very difficult. To survive, they should be working directly with all the incumbent operators to help them ‘do a free’.

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12 responses to “FON squashed overnight…

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  3. Pingback: GigaOM » Free Is freer via WiFi

  4. J’ai parlé de cela déjà le 22 avril 2006 en étant certain que les opérateurs Telco allaient offrir le wifi gratuitement à leur abonnés.

    http://www.pascalrossini.com/wordpress/?p=255

  5. Well, as the founder of Fon I can say that while the move on Free´s part is cool we already have a deal with Neuf to do the same and with Free customers will be able to roam in France and with Neuf who has as many installs in France as Free they will be able to roam the world. And yes the French love France (so do I and my wife is French) but they certainly love to roam the world.

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  7. yannack

    It actually only opened up the network to the phones they sell. If you hope to use any other phone, even wifi-enabled, or a laptop, you won’t be able to connect to that huge network. So for now, this doesn’t compete with FON at all.

  8. yannack’s comment is a good one: Free’s system is closed, so in that respect it is worse for consumers than what Fon is trying to achieve.

    pascal, I also feel this is inevitable. But thinking further about it, this could be a big opportunity for FON for the following reason:

    Free moved so quickly because they own and build their own set-top boxes. This is not usually the case with other operators. So for them to get the software right to apply the same model to their own customers will be much more difficult…and that’s where Fon can be a valuable partner.

    Martin: the operators will be your salvation if Fon is to succeed. It’ll be tough to get 10 million people to install a router when they already get one from the operator. I hope you release some stats on take up when your deal with Neuf launches.

  9. I agree with you Yannick, This brings me to imagine that FON would greatly benefit from supplying its solution as a white label to the telcos, with an undeniable advantage: its internationalisation.

  10. Pingback: French provider launches one hundred thousand hotspots at Roam4free

  11. Pingback: French ISP Free opens up subscribers’ WiFi to each other, adds handsets » JenIT

  12. Pingback: Ansaria.com » Blog Archive » Ya llega el WiFi gratis

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