Time Warner Opens Doors to ‘Free’ Wi-Fi


Time Warner Cable will allow its high-speed-Internet customers to participate free-of-charge in a Wi-Fi wireless network managed by FON, a Spanish startup with backers including Google and eBay’s Skype.

Under the terms of the partnership, Time Warner’s 6.6 million broadband subscribers will be able to become FON community members (called FONeros). FON members are granted free Wi-Fi access as long as they allow other members to access the Internet through a FON-supplied, 54-megabit-per-second wireless-access point connected via a participating service provider.

Currently, FON said, it has fewer than 60,000 community members in the United States.

"We are pleased to welcome Time Warner Cable subscribers to the global FON community," FON U.S. CEO Joanna Rees said in a prepared statement. "Success for FON depends on extending Internet access to our user bases outside the home or office without requiring individuals to rely on costly and problematic remote-access solutions."

FON sells members a $40 Wi-Fi router that provides two channels: one for the exclusive use of its owner, and the second to be shared with other FONeros.

Consumers who are not FON members may purchase one-day Wi-Fi access through the FON network for $3 per day. According to FON, it will split a portion of those nonmember fees with Time Warner Cable, but otherwise, the companies did not specify financial terms.

Investors in FON -- founded in 2006 and based in Madrid, Spain -- include Google, Skype, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital.