Fon lands $13.1 million more to fund community Wi-fi service

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Wi-fi startup Fon Technology SL has secured an additional €10 million ($13.1 million) in funding for its plan to establish a global network of shared hotspots, the company said Friday.

The funding came from new and previous investors, which have included Google Inc., Skype Ltd., Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital Operations LLC, Fon said. The new investors were not named. Index and Sequoia invested €18 million in Fon in February 2006.

Based in Madrid, Spain, Fon provides routers that let home Wi-fi users share their broadband Internet connections with others, and then tap into those other users' connections for free when they are on the road.

Fon's router let users divide how much bandwidth they will share. It broadcasts two Wi-fi signals, one for shared use and a secure, encrypted one for private use. In the U.S., the "La Fonera" router costs $39.95. Those who use one to share their Wi-fi can surf on other Fon hotspots for free, otherwise the cost accessing the Fon network is €3 or $3 a day.

Fon said it has doubled the number of Wi-fi access points in the last two months to 120,000. The new funds will go to building up Fon's user community, which numbers 320,000 members, said spokeswoman Tania Cavada. More specific plans will be released later, she said.

Fon has partnered with Skype to provide wi-fi coverage for users of mobile Skype. It has also partnered with ISPs (Internet service providers) and the social networking site Bebo Inc.

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