Tuesday, December 19, 2006

FON vs. Free WiFi in Argentina

First of all, I am a FONero by heart! A couple of weeks ago, before I arrived in Buenos Aires, I got myself some FONeras (that's how FON calls their Wireless Routers) and brought them to Argentina. I installed two of them, one in downtown (Microcentro, Paraguay street close to Florida), and the other one at home, close to a high frequented train station in a residential neighborhood. Having them up and running now for more than 4 weeks resulted in...yeah right: 0, zip, nada traffic. While I am reading Martin's blog, I am wondering why FON is not taking off in Argentina:

Pricing is an issue? While the FON movement may work well in Europe...it simply is perceived expensive here. A US$3 day pass transfers to a BigMac meal at McDonalds (yes, that is super expensive); alternatively, become FONero share your bandwidth for US$29 (router) plus the monthly DSL fee (Arnet $16 Pesos). Sure, it might be smart to target FON tourists.

WiFi is popular, FON unknown; while WiFi is widespread in the city of Buenos Aires, you hardly find any FON hotspots, the brand is unknown. Why go through the extra hoop of becoming a FONero if you find free WiFi signals? Almost every restaurant or coffee shops, like the Aroma chain, offers free WiFi access.

Seguro, security is an issue; while it is safe to schlepp around your Notebook or show off your WiFi enabled gadget in New York, it is quite unusual to see that in Buenos Aires, unless you like to donate your entire equipment.

For FON to succeed in Argentina it must find a local ISP: Telecom Argentina (Arnet, etc.), Telefonica, etc. The router offer by itself may also not be attractive enough. Since WiFi is everywhere, why not offer the Skype phone + FON router bundle.

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