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Thread: FreedomPOP has a new idea for mobile data service

  1. #1
    haven is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Leader
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Default FreedomPOP has a new idea for mobile data service

    FreedomPOP is a new company that plans to enter the market for mobile data services. They won't operate their own mobile network, but instead will purchase available bandwidth from other carriers. They have a deal in place with Clear to use that company's WiMax network, available in many metro areas across USA.

    So what will attract people to FreedomPOP? First, they plan to provide 1 GB of data service _for free_ each month. If you go over the 1 GB limit, you'll be charged one cent for each megabyte extra (i.e., use 500 MB extra, pay $5).

    Second, FreedomPOP will allow you to trade your unused megabytes with other FreedomPOP participants. That would be great for a family. Take a look at your current cell phone usage. Most people don't exceed 100 megabytes of data each month. (If you're streaming video to your phone, your mileage may vary.)

    The ability to Trade unused megabytes could lead to a secondary market to help buyers and sellers come together. I can imagine a system that trades megabytes for Zynga credits, to be used in Facebook games, for example.

    Third, FreedomPOP will start by offering a WiMax hotspot so any smart phone or personal media player will be able to use the WiMax network.

    Fourth, FreedomPOP plans to offer a shell that fits around an iPhone so the iPhone can use the WiMax network. The shell will offer an external battery to give the iPhone extra juice. (Short battery life is a common complaint among iPhone users.) A shell for the iPod Touch is also under consideration.

    Fifth, and this is the truly subversive part of the FreedomPOP plan, they are considering offering voice service over the data network. Add VOIP to the mix, and you've got less reason to keep your traditional cell phone plan. Even if FreedomPOP doesn't offer VOIP, I imagine Skype and Google Voice will work.

    Sixth, FreedomPOP plans to offer additional social networking services to create a FreedomPOP online community.

    I don't know if FreedomPOP can survive, but I'm willing to use their free 1GB/month data service while they're trying to get established.

  2. #2
    haven is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Leader
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    FreedomPOP now has two ways to give you free data, text and voice service. The company now offers shell products for the iPod Touch, as well as the iPhone 4 and 4S. The shell contains a cell phone radio, a WiFi hotspot, and an extra battery. Your iPod Touch or iPhone connects via WiFi to the shell. Service includes voice over IP, giving your iPod Touch the ability to make phone calls. Either shell product costs $99.

    FreedomPOP now says they will provide 500 MB of data transmissions for free each month. You can purchase additional GBs for $10 each. Check your data use on your current phone to get an idea how much you'll pay for data. There are no monthly service contracts.

    FreedomPOP's first shell products will use WiMax from ClearWire for data service. ClearWire offers service in about 70 metro areas around USA. (WiMax coverage is pretty good where I live. YMMV.) Around the end of the year, FreedomPOP will also offer a shell that works with Sprint's national CDMA and new LTE service. The Sprint service will be the better option if your travels take you away from the WiMax service areas. It's not clear to me how much the shell with Sprint service will cost, or if there will be a trade-in policy for early adopters.

    FreedomPOP is expecting to go live in September, so there's time to get answers to these questions.

  3. #3
    haven is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Leader
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    The FreedomPOP "public beta" is under way now. See

    Here's how the current offer works. You pay $49 for a USB gateway (plugs into a laptop, serves one device) or $89 for a MiFi-style Internet hotspot (supports 8 devices simultaneously). The funds are considered a fully refundable deposit in the event you decide to cancel the service. There is no time limit.

    Then you choose your monthly plan. If you need only 500 MB of downloads a month, the service is available at no charge. Pay $3 a month to get faster downloads (speed increases from 8 megabits to 12 megabits a second under ideal conditions). If you want more data, $18 a month buys 2 GB of data, $29 buys 4GB.

    FreedomPOP requires no contract. You pay on a monthly basis, and can cancel anytime.

    So what's wrong with FreedomPOP?

    First, the cellular data connection uses WiMax technology from Clear's towers provide limited coverage outside the major metro areas. So this is of limited use for travelers. Check out the map here, which shows very little coverage in the mountain West states and the Deep South.

    Second, 500 MB of data downloads is pretty thin. Check your cell phone data use to get an idea of the amount of data you use. Certainly, downloading movies will chew through your minutes in a couple of days. However, if you're just reading email and posting to Facebook, 500 MB is fine.

    Third, this is a brand new company, which could easily go out of business, taking your equipment deposit along with it.

    WiMax coverage is good in my area. I think I'll give this a try.

  4. #4
    wouldnt it be cheaper to just added another gb to your cell phone plan and use your phone as a hot spot?

  5. #5
    haven is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Leader
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Could be, especially if you have one of those plans that pools minutes across devices. Adding an iPad with 4g capability to an existing Verizon group plan costs, what, $10 a month? That assumes you're spending $80 or $90 a month on a two year contract for other devices.

    That's still more expensive than $0 a month after an $89 deposit. But if you're already paying a cell phone provider for data, FreedomPop probably is not going to interest you.

    I'm curious about how the FreedomPop plan can work for an iPad or iPod Touch. Or a smartphone that is off contract.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Any update on this service?

    I see they've dropped the cost of the device to $40.
    John E.

    Yes...It could happen any time
    tornado, earthquake,
    It could happen
    or sunshine, love, salvation
    It could you know, that's why we wake
    and look out
    No guarantees in this life but some bonuses
    like morning, like noon, like evening...

    like right now

    William Stafford 1914-1993

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    I've read some reports of deceptive billing practices. And a confusing use agreement (EULA)

    I've been eyeballing the website for a week and the prices and GB rates have changed at least twice.

    In my opinion, there's nothing free about it. Maybe if you use a burner/pre-paid credit card.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Quote Originally Posted by fetus View Post
    In my opinion, there's nothing free about it. Maybe if you use a burner/pre-paid credit card.

    Even if one takes review samples with caution, (and perhaps the billing issue was eventually resolved, who knows...) the following amazon posting indicates some potential problems with having a open or hackable access-spot with a metered pipe.

    In March I noticed two charges from freedompop. One for $17.99 and on for $370. Yes, $370. I immediately called freedom pop and told them about the charge. They claimed I had used 37Gb (gigs) of data in 2 days. I asked for the dates of the usage and they were for just 3 days prior. I explained that I had not used it in over 2 weeks and the accused me of not password protecting it and leaving my network open. Fact is, the device was protected both with a login password as well as a separate wifi password of my choice. Also, the device was still in my glove box and the battery was dead. They then claimed that my MAC address may have been "spoofed", but had no explanation as to how that could have happened.

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