In his English language blog, Martin Varsavsky mentions that "In the last 24 hours alone we placed 800 access points." and also discusses how they have 100,000 registered Foneros and placed an order for 100k Foneras that they expect to use up by February of next year. That's all pretty impressive stuff. Or is it?
A little while ago there was a post that caused some serious uproar and division in the FON community basically bringing to a head what has already been happening: Fonero dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, rather than respond to the claims that their UI mislead users, FON simply disabled the ability to get the statistics that had been used to determine the actual growth rate of FON access points. So, now when Martin says in his blog "we are huge and growing insanely quickly!" what evidence do we have of that growth?
Additionally, and this is where having a Spanish literate wife comes in handy, in the
24 hours Martin has offered FREE Foneras to three different user communities - Meneama, Bandaanchast, and people who have commented in his Blog. The pessimistic view of this is a very bad one!
The Pessimistic View of FON
This was all a calculated scheme. Martin specifically gave the free FON devices to these communities so that he could artificially increase the number of units "placed" in the last 24 hours. Notice the use of the word "placed" as opposed to "sold". That's kind of sketchy behavior, but I think the even worse situation is this: people who get a router for free are not committed to the project. So, of the 800 "placed" in the last 24 hours what percent will actually get turned on? What percent of the group that get turned on will still be in use 24 hours after they are turned on? How about 24 weeks down the road? PLUS - I've already commented on the folly of this idea in Martin's first discussion of the point. The quality of the network is hugely important, so you don't want to have to send people around to test the points and there are plenty of sites that will teach you how to "crack" the router so it pretends to be working even though it's just serving up private WiFi. Free Foneras degrade the quality of the network. Bad idea. So, it's both shady accounting and it was done in a way that yields very little long term value for FON.