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« Google, Skype, Others Invest in Fon | Main | Who's Hot Today? Fremont (Calif.) »

February 6, 2006

Speakeasy Says No Deal with Fon

Speakeasy says that Fon claims a deal where none exists: I just received this missive and permission to share it from Lynn Brackpool, a spokesperson for Speakeasy Networks. Fon said in reports to some outlets yesterday that Speakeasy Networks was a partner in its plan to spread Wi-Fi sharing using special firmware for Wi-Fi gateways to create massive, grass-roots networks. Speakeasy says they're not involved. (See the bottom of this post for the resolution.)

"FON has falsely announced that they have reached an agreement with Speakeasy regarding support of FON's wireless product. This is 100% completely false. No relationship, financial or otherwise, exists between Speakeasy and FON. In fact, Speakeasy was the first to pro-actively support wireless broadband sharing amongst its subscribers many years ago. Indeed, FON's product appears to be built on a premise Speakeasy introduced in 2003 called NetShare which involves individual revenue-sharing agreements among wireless users (

"We are currently involving legal counsel to demand a retraction from FON regarding their misleading announcement."

On Fon founder Martin Varsavsky's blog, he wrote, "Also I am pleased to announced today that we have obtained the support of two significant ISPs for FON. In America Speakeasy has said that they welcome FON and in Europe, Glocalnet and FON have signed an agreement so Glocalnet sells its services FON ready and the Swedish foneros will soon be able move around Stockholm and other cities with their WiFi enabled gadgets."

This isn't so much a statement of partnership, but might reflect Varsavsky's notion that Speakeasy wouldn't block Fon users.

On the other hand, he several times in his blog and in news stories mentions the word agreement, support, bargain, revenue sharing. Speakeasy has no agreement of any kind with Fon, which would tend to contradict any sense that Fon was sharing revenue with them (unilaterally?) and thus argues that Varsavsky was trying to broaden his appeal by mentioning a U.S. ISP.

Question for Google, Skype, Sequoia, and Index: Did Varsavsky claim a Speakeasy contract? If so, did you do due diligence? If not, will he disclaim his statements?

Update: Speakeasy's Brackpool sent this follow-up statement late today:

"No relationship, financial or otherwise, exists between Speakeasy and FON. The impression may have been created by FON because Speakeasy has always supported an open wireless sharing policy. We have contacted FON and they too understand that no implicit agreement exists between Speakeasy and them in terms of their service. We are satisfied with their response and do not plan to pursue any legal recourse."

3 TrackBacks

Ayer Martin Varsavsky, CEO de Fon, anunciĆ³ en su blog que Google y Skype invierten 18 Millones de Euros en su idea, un gran logro por su parte. En su post hizo referencias a una especie de acuerdo verbal entre Speakeasy (ISP americano) y Fon: “E... Read More

Not a great start for FON from on February 6, 2006 5:57 PM

Well, the FON network has $22-million or so from Google, Skype and Index Ventures, but it might have a bit of a credibility problem as well, after reports from one U.S. Internet service provider that contradicted what founder Martin Varsavsky said whe... Read More

With a follow-up story the next day: On the other hand, he mentions several times in his blog and in news stories the word agreement, support, bargain, revenue sharing. Read More


Glenn, this is Ejovi Nuwere. I'm the US country manager for FON. Just to clarify there was a mistake in the reuters article. We did not say that we have a deal with Speakeasy, we only say that Speakeasy allows for FON on its network.

You can read a post on the subject I made several days ago:


Like Glenn I too am a bit skeptical regarding this plan. Maybe I am wrong, but these Q's came up in my mind.

In the company website Fon says that the plan is to have users keep the Linksys "close to their windows" and turn their network into a hotspot.

- How often do mobile users (aliens in your parlance) try to access Internet close to residential areas. Since roaming users are people who are on the move I am not sure what are the odds that they will be close to someone's home to pick up that signal, especially the bulk of Foneros will not be in the heart of the city.
- Signal issues. Strength and coverage are major issues. If you are going to charge someone (aliens) for accessing the signal in a metered manner there might be a need for ensuring consistent and strong signal. Since Fon do not have any control over the location where the hotspot is installed it is difficult to ensure that. Now with fading signals etc you are also going to hit issues like billing discrepencies.
- It is very possible that the amount each Foneros are going to make out of this deal is so small that it might put a dampner on the whole thing.

Any thoughts?