I’ve written before about the hassles of finding public wifi while traveling, and I highlighted Fon, a company that is trying to make wifi sharing a thing. Fon provides a membership-based global wifi network, and they’ve been at it since 2006. It’s a really cool concept and now they boast over 20 million hotspots around the world. Of course you have to keep in mind that hot spots are really tiny. So you need a huge volume to be useful. Here’s what their global coverage looks like (it’s pretty impressive in parts of Europe):
Now there’s a new Brisbane-based startup implementing a similar business model. Velvet invented their own hardware that plugs into your wifi router to allow sharing of your signal. Unlike Fon, the Velvet model allows people to earn money for sharing their wifi, though you do need to make an initial investment of $60 to buy the equipment. Velvet is currently in beta release.
People seeking wifi can create a Velvet account and pay only for what you use. I look forward to seeing companies like this one expand the publicly available wifi around the world.