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BT and FON come together to create massive Wi-Fi community
Thursday 04 October 2007 14:20:39 by Andrew Ferguson

In February 2007, we reported on talks between BT and FON over a deal to embed the FON software into the BT Home Hub. Based on the press release sent out by BT today, this has come to fruition and BT Total Broadband customers are just a click away from having access to the FON Wi-Fi network.

By agreeing to allow people to share a small portion of their home broadband connections Internet capacity, users  will be able to use Wi-Fi enabled devices when away from home by accessing another BT FON connection. This functionality is embedded in or will shortly be added to BT Home Hub's and using the devices remote software upgrade mechanism.

This is the start of something very exciting for BT. Today we are launching a people’s network of Wi-Fi, which could one day cover every street in Britain.

We are giving our millions of broadband customers a choice and an opportunity. If they are prepared to securely share a little of their broadband, they can share the broadband connections of 190,000 others without paying a penny.

We have built a public Wi-Fi network and 12 Wireless Cities already, but today we are saying to customers, let’s build a Wi-Fi community together, which covers everywhere and serves everyone.

Gavin Patterson, Managing Director (Consumer), BT Group

BT Total customers of course already have access to the BT Openzone Wi-Fi network but with some three million broadband customers many of who will have a BT Home Hub, there is a lot more scope for managing to get a wireless network connection anywhere in the UK. BT customers can sign-up and read more at

It is worth clarifying that if you have a BT Total connection and a FON router already, you will still need to agree to the BT FON deal. Any Foneros (the name for FON users) can use the BT FON hotspots and vice versa. This deal does not give Foneros free access to BT Openzone hotspots, which remains part of the BT Total broadband packages.


Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"By agreeing to allow people to share a small portion of their home broadband connections Internet capacity"
Oh so not only is it another cash cow scheme by BT but with all their new throttles you too can now have even slower speeds by giving away your bandwidth.... wonderfull (sarcasm off)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
Amounts shared is a maximum of 0.5Mbps, but can be smaller and depends on what the BT Total customer is doing.

As for a cash cow - where is the cash exchanging hands? Have I missed something?
Posted by ferretuk over 9 years ago
0.5Mb/s still equates (assuming I've done my maths correctly) to a maximum of 180MB/hour or 4.3GB/day, which plays havoc with download allowances :)

Clearly it is unlikely that the connection would be fully used 24x7, and I realise that you can choose to make less bandwidth available, but the unpredicatble nature of the use of hotspots makes this a bit of non-starter in my view.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Amounts shared is a maximum of 0.5Mbps, but can be smaller and depends on what the BT Total customer is doing.
As for a cash cow - where is the cash exchanging hands? Have I missed something?"
Why should anyone want to or need to even give away a single kb for what is paid for is beyond me. The cash cow part comes in the form of people being tied to another contract if they want this service and if you want to use BT Openzone hotspots thats not included.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
As for giving away a single KB, some people are happy to provide service access like this. Just because some people will not, does not mean everyone will feel the same way.

Some premium BT Openzone hotspots are not included, but ones with a BT FON signal are, so a case of seeing how it works in practice perhaps before ripping it apart.

On the download allowances I am verifying this, i.e. whether the traffic will or will not count.
Posted by liamthom over 9 years ago
This is a fantastic idea and one which will help everybody, BT, FON and everyone who has a FON account.

What FON needs to do is to try and sort out some firmware for all routers so that people on other ISP's books do not need to ditch their decent routers to join in.

I believe the cash comes from people using the FON network who are not supplying a hotspot themselves.
Posted by MysticEddy over 9 years ago
People using the BT FON network will not contribute to a users download allowance.
Posted by nokian over 9 years ago
I've just signed up for it. I feel that this is a great idea that will benefit those who are mobile. I can't see much attraction for those who never leave home though.
Posted by ferretuk over 9 years ago
I stand corrected about the download allowance (There is an entry buried in the FAQ)
Posted by ianwild over 9 years ago
FYI , I'm trying to find out more about this as we speak, but my understanding is that within the home hub what gets created is a separate environment with lower QoS and firewalled off from than the primary user. Also, usage used by the Fon side isn't supposed to be counted against the usage count for the customer.

As I say, I'm trying to find more about how it works.

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago has a bit more, though why wimax is in the title no idea.

Usage won't count, in the same way BT Vision usage doesn't.

As for competing with 3G - devices don't roam too well between WiFi areas, so for example Wi-Fi would not work well if using it to play games online from a PSP on the bus.
Posted by suffolkpunch over 9 years ago
this seems to be quite an exciting venture and can understand the marketing thougt process (gb allowance permitting), however, if I'm away from home on business, do I want to be driving around a large housing estate in search of a wi-fi signal or do I brave the masses and visit a town centre McDonalds?
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"do I want to be driving around a large housing estate " not unless you're sure the cops are aware of this new service :-)
Posted by g-bhxu over 9 years ago
Picture the scene. It's dark outside and you have heard the sound of a motor continuously running for a couple of hours. You open the curtains to see somebody running their laptop if a generator in the street!

On a serious note.

Would a BT Total customer make any money out of it for themselves? After all, they're paying for the phone line rental and the electricity that the router uses!
Posted by dream72 over 9 years ago
BT customers will not make any money for themselves from this. The benefit to them is that if they wish to share their connection they become part of a network of people who are able to log in anywhere there is a BTFon connection available. Yes, so, they pay for the line rental and the electricity the hub uses but they'd be paying this regardless of whether they were sharing or not!! I think this is a great idea and a good way forward, not because I'm a BT employee and know all the ins and outs of the service but because I believe in it
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Im not sure i would trust BT to be able to to the sums for Monthly Allowance Usage not counting on this, but still work out your normal usage seperately.
Posted by neilandgerry over 9 years ago
Can't see any reason why I would want to let someone else use my home connections - the access is slow enough as it is
Posted by RatSalad over 9 years ago
It's quite simple really, If you like the idea 'opt in' if not don't.

whatever you do it can be reversed, there are no contracts, at least as far as I'm aware there isn't.
Posted by davidt67 over 9 years ago
The FON connection will be in a DMZ, separate from your home LAN connection. So, I can see how QoS and billing can be clearly ringfenced.

More of a concern is that T&Cs make it quite clear that you as rentor of the BT equipment have no responsibility for the actions of FON users, whatever they might be.

I think there have to be better ways of creating a Wireless Mesh and making better use of the saturated radio spectrum.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Someone want to comment on if the home hub hadware can handle this adequately? It's not precisely the fastest router on the market, and I've used more capeable routers from Asus which struggled when supporting two wireless networks with high numbers of connections.
Posted by wlchubb over 9 years ago
Try it before condemning it! Fankly, I'm all for it.
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