Blog Post

FON buys GSpace, Will Add Storage to WiFi

FON, the Madrid, Spain-based WiFi services company has bought the popular Firefox extension, GSpace, for an undisclosed amount, according company officials. The FireFox extension was developed by Rahul Jonna and allows users to treat their GMail accounts as an online file storage locker.

The extension will be integrated with a new device, called FON Liberator, company founder Martin Varsavsky informs us in an email. The device is going to be launched in February 2007, and it is essentially a FON router that will have a USB 2.0 port.

Any device– iPod, hard drive or a flash drive – can be plugged into the router and turn it into network-attached storage. GSpace users, when using the Liberator could easily transfer their files either to their GMail accounts or straight to their personal hard drives which are plugged into the Liberator via the USB port.

Liberator is based on an OpenWRT operating system and has a bundled web server. Among other features, FON is bundling applications into this new router. For instance, it is going to bundle a special BitTorrent client with the new device. It will also have features for folks to upload photos to say their Flickr account or videos to YouTube.

The Liberator will come with a special web-based interface that will allow FON users to offload their uploading and downloading from their computers to their routers. This web admin interface will allow you to access files from your local USB attached drive over the Internet.

Liberator is not the first device to turn a plain vanilla drive into network attached storage device. There are several options. including Apple’s Airport Extreme (pricey.) Fabrik and its partners, Maxtor offer an easy to use storage drive, and so do several others. So why is FON doing this?

It is an attempt to make its network and service more attractive to users. If they can make the user experience simple enough, it would help attract new Foneros to the network.

28 Responses to “FON buys GSpace, Will Add Storage to WiFi”

  1. NIST’s National Vulnerability Database reports in its National Cyber-Alert System
    Vulnerability Summary:

    Rahul Jonna Gmail File Space (GSpace) allows remote attackers to perform virtual filesystem actions via e-mail messages with certain subject lines, as demonstrated by (1) a GSPACE “2174|1|1|1|gs:/ d$” message, which injects a new file into the filesystem; and (2) a GSPACE “|-135|1|1|0|gs:/ d$” message, which creates a folder.


    CVSS Severity: 7.0 (High)
    Range: Remotely exploitable
    Authentication: Not required to exploit
    Impact Type: Provides unauthorized access, Allows partial confidentiality, integrity, and availability violation , Allows disruption of service”

    …and more

    Does not seem one for FON

  2. I share similar concerns as the comment from dave… I didn’t think Google let you use their Gmail service in such a way. But if they are an investor in FON, maybe they are making an exception?

  3. Avravedee

    Dear Friends,
    I need your help. I heard about GSpace, but unfortunately I am not able to log in. Enable the Javascript, this is the objection I am facing. But Javascrit is enabled by default, and manualy doing it again, still the same massage is coming.
    Please helpe me.

  4. Our company 1-clik media developped a peer-to-peer plug-in designed for tv channel ith push and streaming access. We are finishing a new project Room31 mixing 1GB free storage, social network and p2p. We are very happy to see how Internet services will be now able to be supported by domestic device like Liberator and so on…We truely believe in the near future people will be connected 24h/24 and all computer will be data server: no more upload, access “ATAWAD” anytime, anywhere, anydevice…
    Te felicito Martin por Leo y te mando un abracao.

  5. “It is an attempt to make its network and service more attractive to users. If they can make the user experience simple enough, it would help attract new Foneros to the network.”

    The announcement does seem to be an admission that Fon does NOT provide much network value, particularly in the USA suburbs. First, we share broadband with strangers. Now, we share files, too?

    Alice lost in Wonderland – or the Spanish equivalent.

  6. I second Mike’s view. We compiled in a matter of days a torrent client for Asus as it runs Linux. Asus themselves have software for such applications available for download. It’s extremely trivial to replicate the technology behind it.

  7. Martin will have a world of problems that he is inviting with this feature of data sharing in the product. Security and protection of data in this shared domain will open up a can of worms. Protected sharing is a dangereous element.


  8. Mike,

    you make excellent point, and I could not agree with you more. I suspect, it is the network effect and a way to leverage Foneros that might be the barrier to entry. I don’t have first hand knowledge of how the interface is going to look, or how the system is supposed to work to be able to even take a stand.

    your points, however are spot on.

  9. The biggest issue I see with this is that the technology is trivial to replicate, specially if you are already a well-established hardware manufacturer. With the Linksys NLSU2, one can use cTorrent and up to two attached drives, just in the way the Liberator is supposed to work. They will add a nice web interface to help users along, but what is stopping Linksys or others from releasing such device in weeks. These players already have the coverage and distribution channels that FON doesn’t have, so it seems like a bit of a suicide. Time will tell.

  10. Asus wireless router line starting with the already obsolete WL-500g sport USB ports with “Liberator” functionality. Everything from iPods to harddrives turn into remote storage (over FTP) when connected to the linux compatible router, no drivers needed. The only way to make it better is have it:
    -Ubiquitous (and a familiar experience)
    -Available (ie Asus does not sell the wl500g anymore)
    -User friendly (usable like a memory stick, for example, and not FTP)

    All eyes on the Liberator.

  11. I don’t understand why one would buy a plugin (so, just some code), which enables it’s users to safe files in an ‘illegal’ filesystem: Gmail prohibits the use of Gmail as a filesystem. They might tollerate it, for now, but I can’t immagine that they will allow the use for this in a product such as the libirator. On the other hand: Fon has Google as investor, and probably has some good contacts there. But Gmail was never intended as file storage, and to store files, there are way better options.

  12. i’m confused…my understanding is that use of the gspace extension violates gmail’s terms of use and may result in loss or suspension of accounts…should we be looking for a larger relationship here between fon and google?

  13. Aswath, from what i know, this will be full file sharing capability. they are using NetBIOS and will basically mean that you can manage the storage from a remote machine, without local computr access. i think there is a bunch of other gateway devices that have this feature. i think actiontec (which oem’s for FON) which announced home gateways like that.

  14. I would imagine that they will have file sharing capability as well. I also have a calrifying question: Is it going to be just a file sharing capability (in the sense that one can copy to a local storage) or a full file server (in the sense any application can access the files, modify and save them)?

    Recently, many other manufacturers have added this capability to thier “home gateway” devices. They were even displayed in Fall VON and WiMax Conference.

  15. The Apple AirPort Extreme does not offer network-attached storage. Its USB port may be used in the consumer version to attach a single USB printer to share it; in the educational version, the USB port may be connected to a USB hub and supports up to four USB printers for sharing.

    See the specs page. There was a great Wi-Fi NAS plus Wi-Fi gateway years ago (with iTunes zeroconf support) from a company called Martian that switched to OEM manufacturer.