Free wifi on iTouch with BT FON for BT broadband customers

I recently bought my wife an Apple iTouch (she was so taken with my iPhone and the applications on it but did not need another phone herself). It was somewhat annoying on the day we bought it to find that it could not be used until you have connected to iTunes.

At the time we were spending a few days in Chester and did not have our computers with us. I vaguely recalled seeing an internet cafe in the town and after a short wander around, we found the place and did the itunes stuff for the princely sum of £2.

We then went to a coffee shop I knew in the town that offered free wifi access and my wife was able to play and download a wide range of applications. One happy lady.

In order to make best use of an iTouch (and indeed an iPhone when 3g is just not enough), we needed to establish where to find wifi spots and how much they cost. We looked at the subscription offers from the various providers. £5 per month for BTOpenZone seemed like the best deal. We did not sign up though, wanting to leave it a while to check out options.

This morning I had to reboot my BT broadband hub and took a look at my account settings. I then discovered BT FON: “… a growing Wi-Fi community of people who share a small portion of their own home broadband with other members of the BT FON community. This creates hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi Hotspots around the world to use when you’re out and about.”

By opting in (which is a default for new BT broadband customers), I agree to make my hub a mini-hotspot freely available for anyone else with a BT Fon account to use if they happy to be near my house with a wifi device. They are limited to 512k (taken from my allocated bandwidth on demand) and use a different SSID so it is secure from my network. Obviously they need to be within about 20 metres on my house on the side near the hub, which is pretty tricky at our place.

I can now use any other FON wifi point in the world and the account level of my BT broadband access (option 3) gives me unlimited use. I also get 500 minutes (that’s over 8 hours) of access to BT Openzone (coming to a Starbucks near you soon).

Anyone with BT broadband, whatever their option, gets some allowance for FON –  250/350/unlimited for options 1/2/3 & anywhere respectively – and option 3 & anywhere get 500 mins BT Openzone (not sure what you get for options 1 and 2, could not find it on the BT FON site).

A quick drive down the road to find a house listed on the free FON MAP application on my iPhone found me connected up before I could turn the engine off and after a quick login on the safari browser using by broadband email address, I was surfing! Brilliant.

So, my SO now has plenty of options for connecting up when out and about even without the 3g of the iPhone. She can even use it as a phone using Skype or one of the other voip applications (together with a mic/earphone set for the iPhone/iTouch).

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