Startup FON Giving Away Free Wi-Fi Routers In San Francisco

Oct 26, 2006 (03:10 PM EDT)

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Spanish startup FON says it will offer free Wi-Fi wireless routers to San Francisco residents at an event Friday.

The company is promoting a Wi-Fi sharing model via which it hopes to build out a global Wi-Fi network.

FON members plug the routers, called La Foneras, into their home broadband and set up a private in-home hotspot. They also share a certain amount of wireless Internet access with other members, and in turn get free Wi-Fi at other Fonera access points.

"With FON's Wi-Fi sharing model, we can really build a city-wide Wi-Fi community today, by getting FON wireless routers in every neighborhood across San Francisco," said Joanna Rees, chairman of U.S. operations for FON, in a prepared statement.

San Francisco residents are still waiting for a free citywide Wi-Fi rollout that has been stalled.

FON said New York City will be the next target for a rollout of FON's routers.

FON is funded in large part by investments from Google, Skype and venture capitalists, and claims that it has already delivered 100,000 Wi-Fi routers worldwide.