FON times ahead

Yesterday I finally got around to purchasing a FON router. The idea behind FON is that you share part of your broadband connection with other people, who pay to access it, and you get a share of the revenue – although not yet in the UK it seems! The other benefit is that you get roaming access to the FON network – other WiFi hotspots – anywhere in the world. 

The version of the router I bought is a developers edition that allows you to develop applications for it. From the product description:

“The Fonera 2.0 is intended to be a Liberator of your desktop computers by being able to both execute applications that you usually need to run in background on your computers and to help you share USB devices between the notebooks connected to your Fonera 2.0, like USB Disks, USB Scanners, USB Printers or Webcams.”

This is great for, say, downloading podcasts, radio shows and other large media. For example, I regularly listen to a couple of different podcasts. I subscribe to most of them through iTunes which dutifully checks every now and again to see if there are any new episodes. If there are any new episodes, it starts to download them … and I sit there and wait for them to come down the pipe. With the Fonera I could push that functionality off to it and as it is always connected to the Internet, when I turn on my laptop, or my iPod Touch, my “media” is already there on my local network. No more waiting for downloads! Well, at least that’s the idea I intend to play around with when it arrives. It runs OpenWrt which is a Linux distribution for embedded devices; I guess I’ll have to brush up on my Linux skills, e.g. what exactly is firmware?

It reminds me a bit of Apple’s Time Capsule – I bought one of those a few weeks ago. The Fonera doesn’t have a built-in hard disk like the Time Capsule does but it has a USB port so it’s possible to connect something like an external drive or a USB fob to it; from what I’ve seen on the wiki it’s possible to mount an external drive over Samba (I think). Both don’t have a built-in modem. A big difference is that the Fonera is an open system as opposed to Apple’s Time Capsule, which, as one comes to expect from Apple, is closed. 

I’m looking forward to playing around it. Hmm! Maybe I should get out more.

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