Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tech Column: Free Wifi Overseas

by Bill Adler

How about some free wifi in Europe or Asia?

I know, that's the one thing that's been holding you back from taking a vacation.  Not having wifi means not being able to afford to post to Facebook or Twitter, so what's the point in traveling

I'm writing this tech column (and, yes, checking on on Facebook) from a place called the Sun Cafe in Kawasaki, Japan. I'm able to accomplish this major miracle (without having to pay AT&T another $120 for a paltry 800 megabytes of international data roaming) through FON.

What is FON? In its simplest form FON is a free wifi service that you can tap into in many places in the world. It's a little more complicated than that, of course, but not much more complicated. So here goes: To use FON wifi throughout the world all you have to do is join FON and offer free Internet to others. Offering free Internet means buying a $50 FON router, attaching it to a port on your existing router and leaving it on.

Only FON members can access your FON router; FON members can only connect to the Internet through your FON router. Your FON account is good for life, as long as you keep your FON router on. There are no fees other than the cost of getting a FON router.

That's it. That's all you have to do: Sign up, fire up your router when it arrives, and keep it on. You'll get a FON username and password, which will be your wifi logon wherever there's a FON router. Because all FON routers use the same wifi name, you don't have to enter in logon information for each FON router you encounter; it's automatic. Laptops, tablets and smartphones can all use FON.

FON's limitation is that it's not universal. FON router density varies a lot by country and city. Japan has a lot of people who broadcast FON signals. Amsterdam, Paris, London and other European cities have FON all over the place, too. You can check on where FON is (and it continues to expand here): http://maps.fon.com/en

So why haven't you heard about FON? That's because it isn't that popular in the United States...yet. But that doesn't matter, because once you're a FON member you're able to use FON in other countries, which is what matters.

To learn more about FON or sign up, visit https://www.fon.com/en/

Free wifi. It doesn't get sweeter than that.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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