Fon to simplify community Wi-Fi access

It has a deal with Spotigo that would make easier connections to hot spots

Fon Technology SL hopes to make it easier for users to connect to its network of hot spots with Wi-Fi-enabled phones by offering them software from Spotigo GmbH.

Fon has licensed Spotigo's Wi-Fi Smart Client and will distribute it, branded as the Fon Wi-Fi Connection Manager, to all of its users around the world. The first client will work on Nokia Corp. phones running the Symbian operating system and should become available in the next couple of days, said Diego Cabezudo, vice president of operations at Fon. Users will be able to download the software for free from Fon's Web site.

Fon is also working on a client application that will be compatible with Windows-based phones. That software should become available in the next couple of months.

Currently, Fon users can connect to the hot spots with their Wi-Fi-enabled phones, but the process can be challenging. Each time the customer comes in range of a Fon hot spot, the user must add a   username and password to get access. "From the mobile phone, that's kind of tedious," Cabezudo said.

With the Spotigo software, a user will enter those details the first time he attaches to a Fon hot spot, but the software will store the information and automatically log the user on the next time he's in range.

Users will also be able to set preferences so their phones will either automatically connect to a Fon hot spot when in range or alert them first before connecting.

Fon is a community of Wi-Fi users who share their individual hot spots with each other. In September, Fon said it had activated 20,000 Fon access points around the world.

While the number of mobile phone models that include Wi-Fi is increasing, some users find it difficult to connect to the wireless networks. A look at the Wi-Fi Mobiles discussion board on Fon's Web site suggests that many customers are having trouble using mobile phones to connect to Wi-Fi access points. Many of the messages include requests for help connecting specific phone models to Fon hot spots. The Spotigo software could make that process easier.

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Spotigo is a developer of software that helps users find and connect to hot spots. The company also manages a search service that includes 50,000 European hot spots.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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