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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Wi-fi sharing plan launched in UK
Wireless living is becoming a normal part of our day
The UK's wireless net credentials have been boosted with the launch of a wi-fi sharing community by BT.

BT has backed a global wireless sharing service called Fon, billing it as the "world's largest wi-fi community".

The firm's three million broadband customers will be able to share their wi-fi with others in the Fon community.

BT's scheme with Spanish firm Fon will boost the 500,000-strong community of users around the world and add to the existing 190,000 Fon hotspots.

The BT Fon service lets people share a "small portion" of their home broadband connection by opening up a separate secure channel on their wireless router.

Fon users can access broadband when in range of another community member's hotspot.

Gavin Patterson, BT Group's managing director, said the plan was to create "the people's network of wi-fi, that could one day cover every street in Britain".

Free access

Joining the BT Fon scheme is free of charge and community members will also have free access to existing BT hotspots in its Openzone network.

"If they are prepared to securely share a little of their broadband, they can share the broadband at hundreds of thousands of Fon and BT Openzone hotspots today, without paying a penny," added Mr Patterson.

Meanwhile, Freedom4, known formerly as Pipex Wireless, is launching a Wimax service in Manchester, offering wireless broadband without the need for a phone line.

Wimax is a wireless technology that has a greater range than wi-fi and operates at faster speeds.

It is seen as a potential rival to wi-fi and mobile phone networks, which have struggled in recent years to persuade people to use their handsets for high-speed net connections.

Most operators in the UK offer 3G networks, which are slow in comparison to wi-fi and Wimax.

Some operators are beginning to use HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks which are faster, but they are limited by the speed of the handset used and are also capped below their maximum bandwidth in many cases.

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