Remember that FON service
we brought to you a few months back, which aims to create a worldwide network of private hotspots wherein members can hop onto any other members' routers for free VoIP calling? Well after receiving a fresh infusion of cash from Google and Skype, the company is storming into the U.S. and Europe with a deal straight out of a domestic wireless carrier's playbook: give away or heavily subsidize the hardware in order to lock customers into long-term commitments. In this case, Fon is "selling" Linksys routers for $5-a-pop (or five Euros in Europe) in exchange for users agreeing to open up their network to other so-called "foneros" for 12 months, though by doing so, they are free to make calls from other members' hotspots during that period as well. As you'll recall, those folks unwilling to provide public access can still tap into other members' signal, but must pay $3-a-day for the privilege. The future of the company is no way assured, though, as this whole operation could go down in flames should Internet providers take FON to court for enabling their customers to share bandwidth; on the bright side, you'll only be out five bucks plus shipping and taxes if the business folds.