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iPhone to get free worldwide Wi-Fi?

FON has been ramping up its efforts to establish a worldwide Wi-Fi network that allows anyone to connect wirelessly for free, last month's deal allowing BT broadband subscribers in the UK to access the network marked a big step forward. Now there's speculation that Apple could be joining the party – could Apple be planning to encourage iPhone owners to sign up?

The idea works by encouraging users with a FON-compatible wireless router to share their home broadband connection wirelessly with any other FON subscriber. If you're sharing your connection wirelessly, you can use other people's too.

Of course, the viability of the plan rests on user numbers. Last month, there were around 190,000 FON hotspots worldwide – far from enough to guarantee you'll find a convenient hotspot wherever you are, particularly in rural locations.

The deal with BT will have gone some way to increase awareness of the scheme, but getting Steve Jobs onboard is another thing altogether. Apparently the Apple CEO recently held a meeting with FON founder Martin Varsavsky to discuss the service, leading to speculation that FON could be lining up its biggest proponent yet.

"He's not the nicest guy - I mean his questions are inquisitive to say the least. He's to the point," said Varsavsky.

But if the initial meeting leads to something more concrete – Apple's full support for the Wi-Fi-sharing scheme – this could be the beginning of something big.

Varsavsky's video report on his meeting with Steve Jobs is available here.

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