The End of AT&T - FON and the rise of Citizen Networks
This week's column for VoIP Magazine is on "Anarchic Wireless Networks" -- a term I was introduced to while working with Nokia back at the beginning of the millennium. At the time folks in Nokia's strategy group expressed the belief that AWN was the biggest threat to operator hegemony -- offering citizen driven wireless networks as an alternative to corporate controlled and government regulated cellular networks. Now along comes FON, $5 routers, and backing from Google and EBay. The end of AT&T? Not today or even tomorrow. But it may finally be a vector for competition with what is otherwise beginning to look like a very cozy relationship between mega-corporations and government aimed at completely controlling our access to information and communications.
Of course, as I point out in my opinion piece, the existing broadband providers will fight FON (and other AWN offerings) to protect their monopoly franchises. Don't be surprised if they even do this in the name of "national security" since, of course, if it is being driven from the bottom up it must be dangerous. Let's all start calling this technology "CITIZEN NETWORKS" so that when AT&T lobbies to have these networks shut down, it is clear that they are trying to take away our FREEDOM.
Here is an excerpt from my VoIP Magazine article:
Way back in the year 2000, big telecommunications companies like Nokia were talking about wireless broadband as an alternative to telecommunications companies. The Nokia RoofTop Router Management System was the beginning of a strange new networking animal that the company privately called "anarchic wireless networks" -- subscriber-driven networks that would grow organically and provide consumers with "…a high speed, always-on Internet connection." But the "anarchic wireless network" -- let's call it AWN -- group at Nokia hasn't been heard from in awhile, perhaps in part because these kinds of networks provide stiff competition for the kind of customers that provide the bulk of Nokia's revenue -- traditional large telecommunications carriers.Read the rest on the VoIP Magazine website --> "Anarchic Wireless Networks, The Future of Telco Competition?"
In the meantime a spunky Spanish startup has independently developed a technology and business model that brings the idea of AWN into consumer's hands, at a fraction of the price thought possible just 5 years ago. And with a $21.7 million venture round closed this past February (which includes Google and EBay), FON has the resources and corporate backing to bring this idea to market in the developed world.