Shake, Rattle & FON


A reader had tipped us off that something was afoot at FON USA, and now we have been able find out what it is – Juergen Urbanski, the general manager of US operation for WiFi service provider FON has left the company, few months after he took charge. We could not reach him for comment, but folks in the know have confirmed the news. Faisal Galaria, who left his gig as director of business development at Skype has joined FON as vice president of Business Development.

He is in town looking after the US operations and we plan to meet with him later today. (Skype, by the way is an investor in FON.) Unlike Europe or Asia, there are few Foneros in the US, indicating that the company is having a tough time getting traction in the US. You can find some FONspots but they are mostly in hotels, sandwich shops or other locations such as garages. They recently started selling a $5 router to jump start the FON revolution, but the results are not evident just as yet.

From the archives: FONing a WiFI Revolution


Peter Schrama

I recieved the Fon-WLAN Router a few weeks ago and it was free of charge and works very fine.
I did not need to give my credid card number.
It must not be on allways and the do not charge afterwards.
Just great !
Do so in USA.


Maybe you missed this Om, but I published an analysis on data extracted from the FON map service here:

which basically paints a rather dull picture. Right now, Martin Varsavsky is giving away routers for free to commenters on his blog, and to commenters on two other popular Spanish Digg-style sites. There was also something on his blog about having to travel to London, so maybe there is a board meeting, and he needs to pull some numbers (this is pure speculation though!).


David L.

Juergen Urbanski was Ejovi Nuwere’s replacement (who launched the company at eTel). Ejovi Nuwere resigned only a few months ago. That makes two Country Managers in a year.

Steve Ross

Disclaimer: I work for FON

Yes, FON reserves the right to charge you $45.00 if you don’t register your router. We work very hard to avoid this. We want you to register your router and will help you to do so. We will contact you prior to imposing this charge and offer our assistance. We’re having great success with our new router; La Fonera. Previously we were shipping Linksys routers flashed with our own firmware. To prevent individuals from buying them at the discounted rate of $5.00 and re-selling them at a higher price this policy was needed.

Mike B

Please edit your post: the router is $14.10 in the US, not $5 ($5 being one of the price components you’re compelled to pay to get the router).

It must be registered with FON within 30 days and must be kept on for a year. Although they don’t say it explicitly, they do have you credit card number and I guess they could charge you the $45 difference if you don’t live up to the terms.

Roupen N.

When I looked into the $5 a few months back, the string that I saw was: if you dont register the device with their network within X days, they charge your credit card the full price of the router. I didnt dig any deeper deeper. There maybe other strings as well.

Everytime I read a story about FON, I cant help but think, what’s the business in the U.S. at least, with Muni-Fi coming online?

Om Malik

oh more than that… do you really want to mess with your phone company/cable company. they are barely civil when you are not breaking their TOS. I think this is a big challenge for them in the US> rest of the world might be a different story.

David Ulevitch

Maybe it has something to do with consumers not being stupid enough to believe that a $5 router is really a $5 router.

What strings are attached?

What kind of contract?

Comments are closed.