A company is selling dirt-cheap wireless routers around the world in order to get people to turn their home networks into public hotspots.

Fon, a Spanish firm subsidised by Google and Skype, is distributing wireless routers for $5 so that broadband customers can create a wireless hotspot in their home.

Already Fon has signed up 54,000 customers worldwide, including 1166 in the UK and 7740 in Spain, the company's home territory.

To use a Fon hotspot, you simply pre-pay for daily Fon passes, which costs about €3 for a 24-hour period.

Foneros, the people who sign up for Fon routers, can choose to share their Wi-Fi connection in return for free access at any other Fon Wi-Fi hotspot, or they can opt to receive 50% of the revenue from people who buy daily access passes through their hotspot.

Fon wants the world to be able to connect using overlapping Wi-Fi signals, but this will be a challenge since routers have a limited operating range, and total coverage requires that millions of people sign up.

And with more and more cities setting up free access Wi-Fi across the world, there won't be much of an incentive for people to sign up for a pay-for-access service.

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