Iliad-Free boasts largest community Wi-Fi network in the world

You’ll have to forgive the breathless press release issued by Iliad-Free where they boast of having the largest “community Wi-Fi network” in the world with 3 million Wi-Fi “hotspots”. It’s not a Wi-Fi hotzone or any kind of citywide Wi-Fi. What Iliad-Free has done is supply every ADSL subscriber with a Wi-Fi access point that separates out the part of a user’s home network that is open to the public (the “public” being only other Iliad-Free subscribers) from the user’s own network. This is nothing new: Fon has been doing this with its La Fonera access point for several years. The benefit to Iliad-Free users is that if they are is in the vicinity of another Iliad-Free user’s network, they get to use the network. Non-Iliad Free subscribers cannot use the network, making it of limited utility to a lot of people including visitors. This is similar to the model followed by Cablevision in NY, New Jersey and Connecticut where they created large Wi-Fi hotzones that offer free access to people who subscribe to the Cablevision service.


  1. Alain Baritault says

    This announcement is not innovation, but I can tell you it may be a big innovation in France, especially regarding WiFi access in open spaces in France.
    Yes it is a walled garden, because this service is offered (at no charge)only to Free-Iliad subscribers of its ADSL, and only in unbundled zones. The subscriber must also have a Freebox with WiFi included the box. But let’s take the city of Paris for instance, which is a complete unbundled zone. It’s been pretty difficult to find a free hot spot in Paris, excepted in muni-parks and some libraries (thanks to the municipality), and they are closed at night. I don’t know exactly what is the Free-Iliad installed base of ADSL in the city, but it is more that its global market share which is about 25% of the French ADSL market. This means about 1 of 3 internet user in Paris is using Free-Iliad… This brings the Wifi coverage to almost the entire city… What an improvement!! This will probably have a very interesting effect on Free Iliad competitors which are selling Wifi access at outrageous prices in hotels and other places for nomadic people. They may fear loosing ADSL customers. So, I bet France Telecom, SFR and Bouygues will reconsider their high price Wifi accesses. This semi-opened WiFi network is terrific argument that may boost WiFi in France.