Fon, the company with a fairly simple but extremely bold and tough mission (to cover the entire globe with free Wi-Fi), now boasts over 2.5 million hotspots located around the planet. In a brief blog post, entrepreneur, teacher and philanthropist Martin Varsavsky – who founded the company back in 2006 – makes it clear that this is a huge number.
He estimates that the company, which is backed by the likes of Google, Index Ventures, BT, Skype and Sequoia, “grows a T-Mobile every month”, by which he means that as many Fon hotspots light up in various parts of the world as T-Mobile has activated to date.
Varsavsky is also surprisingly open about the fact that two years ago things were looking down for the company and its Wi-Fi community. In the midst of worldwide economic turmoil, the charismatic chief exec says laptops simply didn’t generate enough interest in Wi-Fi roaming.
But then, he adds, the iPhone and other “beautiful bandwidth hogs” such as Android smartphones and other mobile devices with Internet connectivity such as game consoles, netbooks, tablets and advanced music players came along.
From the blog post:
WiFi gadgets are everywhere. Demand for WiFi exceeds supply. And at Fon, together with our telco partners such as BT, SFR, Zon, and others we are working hard so there is WiFi everywhere as an accessible signal. As we like to say, with Fon you share a little WiFi at home and roam the world for free.
Varsavsky says the next milestone to reach is 10 million, which if I’m not as bad at math as I fear I am means 5 times as much as the company has reached in the past 4 years.
Fon was founded in February 2006 by serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky with the goal of blanketing the world with WiFi. Today the company is a global WiFi leader with over 7 million hotspots in more than 100 countries. Fon has offices in Madrid, London, Tokyo and New York. Its partners include Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Belgacom (Belgium), BT (UK), Hrvatski Telekom (Croatia), KPN (Netherlands), Oi (Brazil), MTC (Russia), Netia (Poland), SFR (France), SoftBank (Japan) and ZON (Portugal).