Google and Skype have teamed up with two venture capital firms, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital, to invest 18 million (US$21.6 million) in Fon Technology, a Madrid-based startup that wants to build a global network of Wi-Fi hotspots.
Fon hopes to build a global network of 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots by 2010. These hotspots, which will be operated by users known as "foneros," will provide Internet access to other "foneros," according to the company.
The funds raised from Google, Skype and the others will be used to increase the number of Fon users and to support the growth of Wi-Fi worldwide, "particularly in countries where broadband is currently unaffordable to most people," it said. Fon has registered 3,000 members since the company began offering a beta version of its service in November 2005, the company said.
Fon has formed a deal with Glocalnet, a Swedish ISP, and hopes to announce additional partners soon, the company said. Executives have previously said the company is negotiating with Jazztel, an ISP in Spain
In addition to raising funds from investors, Fon announced the addition of several executives to its board of directors. Index Ventures' Danny Rimer, Mike Volpi of Cisco Systems, and Skype cofounders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have joined the company's board.