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<nettime> (Free) WiFi blues ... Fon and Meraki (fwdfyi)
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 1 Oct 2007 19:29:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (Free) WiFi blues ... Fon and Meraki (fwdfyi)

Following a previous posting on the (near) demise of MuniWifi in the
USA, there is now an interesting discussion going on on the wsfii list
about various WiFi facilitating schemes, esp FON and Meraki. Gregers
Petersen gives (immo) a good round-up:

> it's totally different , FON is selling people bandwidth ,

Fon is not selling people bandwidth - Fon is not an ISP. Fon is
selling/giving away routers so that people can attach 'hotspots' to
their existing broadband connection (typically offered by an ISP
without any ties to Fon, and hereby also compromising the contract
with the ISP then it is probably not allowed for a private individual
to share her/his internet-connection with a generalized public). At
the same time - this gives Fon an excellent way of keeping a tap on
peoples internet use, then Fon has in the default situation complete
control over the system running on the router (which phones-home very
often). Furthermore, you as a user/owner of such a Fonera, can then
choose to offer the access for free or change money for it ....

> Meraki is selling a service for managing your Free (or not) mesh
> hotspots.

Yes - Meraki is selling a router (and giving away the software to
manage it). The Meraki solution is slightly more open (with ssh access
and an official serial connector). But, I still believe the end result
is quite similar to what Fon is doing (though I have to admit that
Meraki has changed it's position quite dramatically across this year -
going from being a small open 'startup', to a much more closed company
attempting to create a 'blackbox' solution). Both parties, Fon and
Maraki, are playing on the creation of a community network, and people
don't have to worry about anything - just use it.

If you read through the following:


it would be a good idea to start wondering: Why is Meraki, as
commercial company, so interested in "helping" people build a
"community network" (they can't be making a lot of money on selling
the Meraki Mini, and definitely not when they are given away for free,
such as in San Francisco), and why is Google and Sequoia Capital
investing money in both Fon and Meraki?

On the other hand - both the Fonera and Meraki Mini are easy to
reflash (OpenWrt Kamikaze or Freifunk runs perfectly), so if a company
wants to give them away for free (or cheaply) just grab and subvert
them :-)

Gregers Petersen
DIIRWB International-Coordinator
international-coordinator {AT} diirwb.net

wsfii-discuss mailing list
wsfii-discuss {AT} lists.okfn.org

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