I disagree with CNet's take on Whisher: News.com's Marguerite Reardon paints Whisher as a way for people to share their broadband connections with others with a bit more security than simply leaving a network open. I can't see that has the kind of utility or uptake needed to make Whisher work. Rather, my view is that you can have 100,000 buddy groups with 2 to 10 people each in them, coupled with thousands of hotspots that are intentionally open and free in public places, but decide to use Whisher for the services it adds. It's possible that some home users and others would offer up their protected network connection as an open network via the Whisher system, but that seems much less likely than easing access to a secure network for all their friends. I know that's how I'll use Whisher.
I don't see Fon and Whisher as having similar goals. Whisher can work if 10,000 people adopt it (although it may not be affordable to develop). Fon requires at least large clusters of its network nodes for the utility to be great enough. Put this way, if I only use Whisher to connect at networks run by a dozen friends, it's still highly useful--less management, less fuss, and I get file transfer with those friends when I'm on their network. With Fon, if I go to a new city and can't find a convenient Fon location, all my Linusing--freely sharing my Fon connection--is for naught. These are definitely not the same models or utilities.