UPS delivered my FON social router today, and it is already up and running here in leafy Ruislip.
The router in question is in fact a Linksys WRT54GL wireless router (which uses a Linux-based open source firmware), running a custom firmware that handles the registration and payment processing for anyone paying to use the hotspot. The FON firmware also handles the provision of free access to anyone you have pre-approved. It also splits the wired and wireless parts of the router into two separate environments, thus ensuring security and (hopefully) preventing anyone connecting via the wireless FON service from accessing your own home Lan.
Setting up the router was extremely simple. I just connected it mo my existing Lan so it could access my broadband connection, connected to it via a WiFi-enabled laptop and registered it with the FON network. It was immediately up and running, though I have since gone and done some fine-tuning. Options I have tweaked include personalising the splash screen that hotspot users will see when they access the hotspot for the first time, and changing the broadcast channel from the default channel 11 to a less congested channel 7 (doing this also distances the broadcast range of the router from my existing wireless network on channel 10).
For now it is in a temporary location in my study (on the shelf where my new B will be going – once I find time to actually take it out of the box). However, I will be repositioning it later this week, once I have tidied up, to a better location in the study where I can maximise the signal range of the router.