We’ve written about the “freemium” free wireless data model from FreedomPop before. I reviewed the Photon 4G mobile hotspot and the company expanded to free home Internet access too. More recently, they made the jump from Clear’s 4G WiMAX network to Sprint’s nationwide 3G/4G network. And now, an even bigger game changer is on the horizon as FreedomPop has announced that it will be offering a 100% free cell phone service starting this summer.
Whereas FreedomPop already offers you 500MB of free data a month through its various products already, the “free phone” will also come with unlimited text messages and 200 minutes of calling each month, plus unlimited calling to other other FreedomPop customers. And this will come at a monthly cost of $0.00. You can pay more for more data or minutes, but this basic plan will cover the needs for many customers. Even if you need unlimited calling, that’s only $10 per month.
Aside from being free, FreedomPop’s phone service is also entirely different in that it operates as VoIP over mobile broadband. You won’t be making cellular calls in the conventional sense, because they’ll be powered by mobile VoIP instead. The same is true for SMS, so at the end of the day, you’re really just using data and more data. We’re being told that this service will work with a “variety” of Android phones, but like the recently launched Overdrive Pro, they will likely be refurbished devices from Sprint. Forbes is saying one option will be the HTC Evo 4G, as well as devices from Samsung and LG. Pricing is expected to be between $99 and $199 with no contract.
This sounds somewhat similar to what Republic Wireless is doing, except it is entirely data-based. As such, it relies heavily on the bandwidth and coverage of Sprint’s network. Take that for what it’s worth, but when the service is free, you already get more than what you pay for. More information and early signups can be found at freedompop.com/phone.