Free Wifi gets a lift in Japan

Free Wifi gets a lift in Japan

Today Fon Japan and Livedoor, one of Japan’s biggest ISPs, announced they would start a partnership to connect their free Wifi access points across Japan.

Livedoor is coming out of some hard times after the very public and very dramatic securities fraud convictions that led to sentences for four executives in early 2007. Most notoriously, founder Takafumi Horie (aka: “Horiemon”) was famous for his brash and aggressive business style and bore the brunt of the blame for the charges brought against the company. Even so, Livedoor still has its sights on going public in 2008. The Fon deal would appear to help their expansion. Fon, launched its wireless network in Japan in late 2006 and is currently the biggest wifi network globally.

wifiThe deal lets Livedoor customers connect to Fon’s 31,000 access points around Japan (as well as 240,000 globally) and also for Fon users to connect to Livedoor’s network which is primarily centered around the inner Tokyo area and currently has about 2,200 access points. The combined service will be free until at least the 4th of August, 2008, but there are plans to continue the service as free after that time as well.

The catch for the general user is that you have to be a member of either the Fon network or Livedoor. But from my initial checking, it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal to join. To become a Fon network member you need to buy a base station and share a Wifi signal yourself (thus extending the network). However, the simple way to access now seems to be through Livedoor where it looks like a regular login account to the Livedoor portal should get you in.

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