FON is a 9 year old technology from Spain which allows you to share your fixed line internet through its wireless antenna to anyone nearby. It was initially set up as a sharing and profit sharing system whereby you got a 50% commission for the data you gave to the user if you chose to. You could also do this for gratis in exchange for similar free WiFi of other users. Now the profit share plans no longer exist.
Telstra could have pushed this technology 5 years ago, but it would have meant they would have been allowing customers to opt out of paying for expensive 3G internet and would have had to pay customers for the data they routed for Telstra. Pay customers to compete with our 3G? No way!
Why is Telstra pushing the technology now?
3G speeds are considered mediocre and largely ubiquitous (in metro areas) with many places giving this away for free. At the same time there has been an explosion is the use of mobile internet meaning paid networks began to struggle under the weight of traffic. Building wireless capacity is expensive and Telstra needs to develop wireless capacity and drive down the price of wireless internet before the NBN arrives with its massive capacity fiber optic internet.
So in other words Telstra is scared of the NBN and is too cheap to build enough wireless towers and would rather use its customers home connections for free. NBN will likely destroy Telstra and Optus in the internet and VOIP markets leaving Telstra (and Optus) only a copper line / 3G carrier for the the extremely remote areas, which have never been profitable.
One of the reasons Telstra wants to make the wireless ‘free’ is simply to ruin the wireless market for the NBN by using FON. The NBN will find it harder to get customers in the wireless market as the price will be so low. Rather cynical considering Telstra didn’t want this technology to compete with their 3G but when someone else wants a piece of the market (3G/4G/4G+), they are literally smashing all of the toys so no one can play.
Ironically this is all happening in the country that did so much to make wireless internet a reality and we are among the last to benefit from it. Hats off to the clever people at CSIRO who made WiFi possible. No thanks to the corporates who sand bag every new technology developed.
Telstra: another reason why we cannot have nice things
If you are interested in truly shared networks do some research on mesh networks.