FreedomPop’s Free Wireless Service Sounds Too Good to Be True, Might Not Be
FreedomPop wants to give everyone access to wireless service for free. The company promises customers 500MB of 4G data as well as unlimited text and 200 minutes of phone service a month at no cost to customers. Giving away what other carriers are charging a premium for may seem impossible to sustain long-term, but FreedomPop plans to reap the profits of a freemium model. Reaching higher levels of data usage or phone service will cost you.
Specifically, FreedomPop’s looking at $9.99 monthly for unlimited phone service, and $18 for using 2GB or more in data. The company also charges smaller monthly fees for various services such as rollover of unused data and faster download speeds. The 50% of customers who stay under the limit and don’t opt for extra services don’t pay a thing, and even paying $30 or more per month for comparable service to what major carriers charge around $100 for doesn’t sound bad.
All of FreedomPop’s phone calls will be made via Voice over IP through the data plan, using Sprint’s 3G network. FreedomPop-compatible phones will be sold at $99 to $199, and include EVO 4G Android phones and the Samsung Galaxy S II and S III.
FreedomPop already provides this service through portable hotspots, USB sticks, and home routers, but this program puts them in direct competition with the big wireless carriers. FreedomPop co-founder Stephen Stokols said that he’s been accused of undercutting the industry by a T-Mobile executive, but Sprint doesn’t seem to mind selling its bandwidth wholesale to an upstart competitor.
All in all, if FreedomPop can pull it off, this could mean a major shift in the mobile industry that will cut costs for many users as smartphones become ubiquitous. Color us tentatively excited.