Stealing Starbucks’ WiFi Customers

Starbucks clients need not pay the usual $10 per day to connect wirelessly. The said fee is charged by T-Mobile for each customer who wants to sign onto its 5,100 hotspots while they stay at U.S. Starbucks. Madrid-based Wi-Fi provider FON is offering a cheaper plan of $2 per day. The scheme allows owners of FON routers — sold for $40 apiece — to let anyone access their network for $2 per day, with the owners and FON splitting the sign-on fee.

The latest move is part of FON’s plan to expand its community of Foneros. The goal is to increase the number of its hotspots worldwide from more than 300,000 today to one million by 2010. At present, Foneros fall into three categories. “Bills”, derived from the name of Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, impose a sign-on fee of $2 for use of their networks and pay the same amount to tap other Fonero networks. “Linuses”, named after open-source Linux system architect Linus Torvalds, allow free use of their extra bandwidth to other Foneros and have unrestricted access to other Fonero networks, including Bills. Aliens or FON community outsiders, pay $2 via PayPal, an online payment service, to access any Fonero network.
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