Friday, February 23, 2007

FON


La Fonera-1FON was having a special promotion for their one year anniversary, where they were giving away free Fonera routers, so I decided to sign up for one.  I have been intrigued with the the Fon "movement", where you create an open WiFi network to share your broadband connection.  Those who share their broadband, can get free wireless access any any other Fon wireless network.  I see the sharing of your broadband connection as similar to leaving your bittorrent client running after a download finishes.  These types of sharing  create a sense of community


I am not sure how sustainable their business model is.  Fon is relying on people putting these routers on their broadband connection.  Some ISPs are OK with sharing broadband connections, like SpeakEasy.  And other ISPs are partnering with Fon, like British Telecom.  Most other ISPs do not allow this type of sharing.  This could potentially cause your broadband connection to be terminated, if the ISP finds out.





The hardware itself, is pretty simple.  It has a single CAT-5 port for connection to a broadband connection.  It has a single WiFi antenna, for both the public and private wireless networks.  The installation instructions indicates that the router should be connect directly to your broadband connection.  The Fonera router creates two seperate woreless netwoeks.  One is the public network and the other is a private network.


I had a few problems with the hardware.  Since the router only has the single WAN port, it is impossible to connect wired devices to the private network, with their instructions.  Also, I don't see any specifications about how this router has configured QoS, so traffic on the public network could negatively affect that from the private network.


I worked around these problems, by putting the Fonera and my firewall router, behind another router.  This router is configured to prioritize all traffic from the firewall router over that from the Fonera.  In addition to making sure that the network traffic is prioritized correctly, it also make sure that any one on the wireless network can not access our internal network.


I also had problems with the wireless itself.  After it was all connected, I was only able to see the private network. All connection attempt failed after entering the password.  I was never able to see the public network.  While this was happening, I had no problem connecting to the Airport Extreme right next to it.  I think that either the wireless signal is lower or the Fonera is not able to handle the interference with other wireless networks.


With all of these problems, I have decided to not use this router.  I will find someone else that I can give the fonera to.