Sharing WiFi with FON.

FONERA 2.0n

If, like me, you find the idea of installing open firmware on your wireless router a bit daunting, you may be a candidate for the new FONERA 2.0n router.

The FONERA 2.0n uses firmware based on OpenWrt. That’s good, but what’s even better is that it allows you to share your Internet connection with friends and other members of the FON community via WiFi.

Setting up the router is easy enough — it’s actually a lot smaller than it looks in the photo. Once its plugged in and receiving a signal from your modem you can access the administration panel through your web browser, by either plugging your computer into one of four Ethernet ports at the back or connecting via WiFi. FON makes the initial WiFi connection very easy by naming your default network “MyPlace” and stamping the WPA password right on the side of the router where it will never get lost.

The admin panel for your FONERA looks and works exactly like this. There are lots of additional bells and whistles that FON has added to their latest hardware, like built-in clients for BitTorrents and file/photo/video transfers. But if you believe what’s being posted on the forums those features may in fact be not quite ready for prime time.

No matter… What I’m most interested in is sharing my WiFi signal without handing out my password to everyone who wants it. And FON makes this almost ridiculously easy, by splitting the router’s WiFi signal right out of the box and allowing you to tweak your public signal via your membership page on the web. You can set separate logins for up to five non-FON members of your choice, and control their available bandwidth via a simple (if a bit odd-looking) slider:

FON Settings

You could also monetize your public WiFi signal if you wanted, but in the spirit of sharing I’ve elected not to. And thanks to my new FONERA I’ll never wince again when a guest turns to me and says: “Hey, can I use your Internet?”