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FON Affiliate Wireless Broadband Access

Reuters reports that FON, a Spanish start-up on an ambitious crusade to turn home Wi-Fi connections into wireless "hotspots" for nearby users, is set to unveil a plan to hand out 1 million wireless AP/routers for just $5 apiece.

FON, which aims to create a network of home users and small businesses to resell their own wireless access to passersby, said it will subsidize $60 Cisco Linksys or Buffalo routers for $5 in the United States or 5 euros in Europe.

Juergen Urbanski, North American general manager, said FON, which in February raised $21.7 million from backers including the founders of Google and Skype, is looking to turn the brand-name equipment into what it calls "social routers." The goal of the Madrid-based company is to build block-by-block networks of shared affiliate wireless connections around the globe, turning local Wi-Fi users into an army of "foneros" -- its term for people who share their wireless access.

As the company's name implies, FON aims to provide wireless Internet access not just to computer users but also for mobile phones and the latest portable gaming devices as they roam. "(Wi-Fi) coverage is universal in big cites, but access is not," Urbanski said of how many of the wireless Internet links broadcasting from businesses, homes, hotels and cafes remain private and unavailable, even to users ready to pay for them.

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