Wireless communities have been long considered an interesting approach to provide mobile Internet, but the key issue is whether they are able to attract and retain a critical mass of active members. It is therefore crucial to understand what motivates and dissuades people from joining and participating in them, especially with the development of mainstream 3G technologies, in order to evaluate their potential development. This paper analyzes motivations and barriers influencing participation in a large wireless community – Fon – based on a survey of 268 members. Two distinct forms of participation driven by different motivations emerge: a ‘participation by sharing’ driven by idealistic motivation and a ‘social participation’ driven by social motives and technical interest. Utilitarian motivations do not play a major role for active participation despite being crucial in attracting members to the community. Accordingly, the way hybrid wireless communities are currently designed (hardly offering occasions for a social usage experience, experimentation and with decreasing utilitarian benefits due the development of 3G technologies) is casting serious doubts about a possible potential development above the status of a niche complement to the dominant cellular technologies.