Time Warner Cable will allow its 6.6m broadband subscribers to share their connections via Fon: The Spanish startup has based its strategy on leveraging existing broadband connections, and, in fact, pitching to ISPs that more connections would be installed as a result of Fon's approach. Fon turns its members'--Foneros--access points into hotspots that cost about $2 or €2 for access. You can also share your Fon hotspot at no cost to a like group of Foneros.
Until now, only a few major ISPs outside the US had partnered with Fon, and only Speakeasy (just purchased by Best Buy) among US broadband providers allowed sharing of a broadband connection without a business connection or additional limitations. The AP story says Time Warner Cable confirmed the broad outlines of what Fon has announced. Precise details are yet to be set, apparently.
While Fon's US head calls T-Mobile and similar services' pricing "extortion," hotspot operators typically put a lot of effort into maintaining a consistent network experience, and offer phone-based and online customer support, among other details. I do think that $10 per day is about twice as expensive as it needs to be, but it's not extortion when you can typically walk down the street or find a coffeeshop next door for free Wi-Fi. In hotels, airports, and conference centers, Fon won't make an impact with this deal.
Fon says they have distributed 370,000 of its La Fonera access points worldwide. The La Fonera creates a private, protected network for local users, and a shared network for Fon users. Only registered phone users can access the public network.
Update: Some news stories note that Foneros get free Wi-Fi when they roam. That doesn't appear to be the case, although Fon's details on joining are confusing. The more information page states, "Our members share their wireless Internet access at home and, in return, enjoy free WiFi wherever they find another Fonero’s Access Point." But later on the page, it says that "most of us are Linuses," and that's where free comes in. Their shopping page makes the point more clearly: "Go social and enjoy WiFi everywhere for free, or make money from others accessing your Access Point."