Fon Raises $14 Million to Fund US Expansion and New Wi-Fi Router Development
Published on: 20th Jan 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
Fon the global Wi Fi sharing network has raised another US$14 million from investors including a stake taken by Qualcomm.
Fon says that it is in the process of developing a "revolutionary" new router that combines social Wi-Fi with music, based on a chipset from Qualcomm Atheros. At the same time, Qualcomm Atheros is integrating Fon as a feature, available via SDK for its chipsets, making it easier for Wi-Fi router manufacturers who use Qualcomm Atheros' chipsets to integrate Fon.
Other investors participating in the round include Fon's existing investors: Index Ventures, Google, Coral, Atomico and Deutsche Telekom.
"The amount of this round and the caliber of investors will propel us into our next stage of growth," said Martin Varsavsky, CEO, Fon. "By integrating Fon into Qualcomm Atheros' chipsets, more devices and systems will be automatically equipped to be part of Fon's global WiFi network."
Fon has grown 50% this year and now stands at over 12 million Wi-Fi hotspots. With its crowd-sourced approach of converting existing WiFi hotspots into community hotspots, Fon has blanketed entire countries with near ubiquitous WiFi coverage. In countries such as UK, France and Belgium, more than 10% of households have a Fon hotspot. Other regions such as Japan and Brazil are catching up as well. Fon has calculated that it has significant coverage in more than 1,000 major cities, making Fon the world's largest Wi-Fi operator in municipalities.
Fon often collaborates with telcos to reach high levels of penetration in a country, and is now looking to build its footprint by intensifying its focus in the United States.
Fon will use the funds to build out its presence in the U.S. as well as expand its reach into new geographies worldwide. It will also fund new product development, including a new Fon router and its newly developed "WiFi for Business", a WiFi solution for Small and Medium Businesses that is expanding the concept of Social WiFi into businesses.
"We expect to reach 35 million WiFi hotspots by 2016," said Varsavsky. "Our recent expansion in the U.S. and projects such as our work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to provide downtown Brooklyn residents, businesses and public with free WiFi are all a part of the strategy to reach that goal."
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