FON Deal Triples Boingo Roaming Sites

By Eric Griffith

May 24, 2007

UPDATED: Roaming on the FON network means Boingo’s virtual hotspot network will have an additional 130,000 locations for surfing.

FON is a company based in Spain creating a worldwide Wi-Fi network of members (called Foneros) who modify their routers or install new and inexpensive routers to support FON. Foneros then can roam freely on any FON site while others pay a small fee, usually $2 a day, which is split with the Foneros. Boingo Wireless of California makes deals with hotspot network providers to allow its subscribers to roam freely on those networks.

Put them together, and Boingo users get almost triple the number of locations on which to get Internet access.

Boingo’s last press release from earlier this month, announcing a roaming agreement for the metro Wi-Fi network in Tokyo, Japan, said it had over 60,000 locations worldwide from 150 hotspot operators. FON claims it has 130,000 Foneros operating. In theory, that now gives Boingo subscribers 190,000 places to log on.

However, Boingo will only be publishing the most reliable of the FON sites in its directory, thus adding about 60,000 locations via FON. Christian Gunning, director of marketing at Boingo, told Wi-Fi Planet, "These are the [FON]  hotspots that network monitoring shows to be alive and well via consistently active "heartbeats."  The less reliable hotspots will be accessible to Boingo users whenever they run across them, but we're not publishing locations that are frequently out of service."

The roaming also extends to Boingo Mobile, the company's service for Wi-Fi-enabled phones. Users pay $7.95 a month to make VoIP calls or check the Internet from a handheld.

The standard Boingo rate for unlimited use of any Boingo partner site is $21.95 per month; the company also offers an "AsYouGo" price of $7.95 a day for U.S./Canada locations, and $9.95 overseas.

FON recently made headlines by signing its first major U.S. ISP partner, Time Warner Cable. Subscribers to that service, found in 33 states, will be given the option of installing a FON-capable router to become Foneros. According to Ad Age, FON also has started giving out its cheap routers -- called La Fonera -- free to people who live near a Starbucks, hoping to entice away T-Mobile Hotspot customers, who pay $10; La Foneras sell for $40 at In the future, FON may provide completely free access to all by becoming advertising-supported.

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