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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sharing broadband with other people for VoIP.... FON vs Free

I've just got back from the VON conference in Berlin - I'll be posting over the next few days about VoIP, SIP and other good stuff.

One thing did stick in my mind though - you know all the fuss about FON breaking some ISPs' terms of service because you're sharing your broadband access, by letting other wireless users do VoIP via your access point?

Well, apparently French operator Free (owned by Iliad) is going to be doing the same thing itself, with its own customers' APs and broadband. As a Free customer with a dual-mode handset, you should be able to use the WiFi capabilities of all the other Free customers' home gateways - potentially over a million hotspots in residential areas. The gateways have both public and private SSIDs.

The question is, if someone else is using my broadband, officially sanctioned by the ISP, how much are they paying me? And what happens if I live above a popular cafe or next door to a university - how many concurrent users can sit on my network, and does the Free box prioritise their realtime voice traffic over my email or web browsing?


old doctor said...

OpenSpark, a Finnish initiative is doing something similar. If you buy an OpenSpark WiFi router, you receive lifelong and free access to all other OpenSpark members worldwide.
It is branded as OpenSpark towards individual users https://open.sparknet.fi/index.php?la=en (€95/router for 30 Mbit throughput) and as SparkNet towards corporate users http://www.sparknet.fi/en/SparkNet.html , who sell the Access Gateway for 2000 euro (1Gbit throughput).

The initiative is pushed by http://www.turkusciencepark.com/TSP/www_en.nsf
Contact Jaakko Kuosmanen if you want extra info. Apparently the OpenSpark network is growing rapidly.
The genius of this approach is that there is no capex that has to subsidized by a private player or government. The users pay for their broadband subscription of their choice, and have to buy the router. Hence the European Commission can't complain that there's market distortion or governmental control.

old doctor said...
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old doctor said...

Reason I point to OpenSpark is: their router reserves a 10 Mbit/s slot for you. So if you happen to live next to a busy place (for example a cafe) where a lot of mobile users with an OpenSpark login to connect to the net through your router, you won't notice a difference. The other users will have to share the public slot though, so if there's dozens of people crammed on your WiFi router, they will notice slower speeds. Then again, nomadic users don't tend to consume that much bandwidth, a few exceptions notwithstanding. Aside: OpenSpark allows all applications (IM, Bittorrent, name it), and encourages using Nokia WiFi-enabled handsets (most of the E- and N-series) for VOIP. So you can call for free to all other OpenSpark members if you're in an OpenSpark hotspot!