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Google and Others Invest in Wireless Servies Company

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Om Malik reports that Google, Skype, and others have invested in FON, a wireless services startup.

FON describes itself this way:

FON is a Global Community of people who share WiFi. Share your WiFi broadband access at home/work and enjoy WiFi all over the world! FON, small cost, great benefit!

People who use FON are called Foneros and according to their blog:

"...the service was launched just 90 days ago and we already have over 3,000 registered Foneros. While that number may seem small, 3,000 registered Foneros puts us at 10% of our 2006 objective in only 3 months? FON can now count Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures as investors and backers."

Om has described it in the past as, "Skype+Boingo+Open Source" but only in a WiFi context.

Om's friend and also a friend of all of us here at SEW Blog, Glenn Fleishman*, shared some less than positive comments about what FON is trying to do on OM's blog in the past. Tonight, Glenn has posted some new thoughts about today's announcement.

He believes that FON faces some major issues with ISP's and also thinks that municipal Wi-Fi networks like the one Google wants to offer in San Francisco and other muninicipal models would "distort the Fon model."

Btw, Glenn "strongly" believes that, "Google will not become a Wi-Fi provider beyond San Francisco and Mountain View (at least not on any large scale) because their interest is high-margin businesses like advertising not low-margin ones like service provision."

Late last week we posted comments from a Google representive about the company's WI-FI desires, plans in SF, and how they might fund such a project using highly targeted localized advertising delivered to users of the municipal WI-FI network like the one Google hopes to build in San Francisco.

From the artice:

By keeping track of which access point a user is connected to, Google will be able to locate users within two blocks for the purposes of sending them advertising for businesses nearby, [Google's Christoper] Sacca said. Google would sell ads by postal code, potentially uncovering a new class of advertisers among small local businesses that don't buy space in other media today, he said. Google's localized ads would be a more efficient way for them to reach likely customers, according to Sacca..."Highly targeted ads may be able to pay for these things," Sacca said.

My question, would Google considering offer those who run FON routers the chance to make extra cash via localized Google advertising that's delivered to users who are are receiving WiFi bandwidth from a FON router? Would this provide extra incentive for different categories of providers as described by Glenn (free operators, for-fee operators, and non-operators) to offer FON services?

* On a completely unrelated note, Glenn Fleishman is also the developer and provider of the wonderful ISBN.nu book comparison pricing database.


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