FreedomPop is finally kicking off its highly anticipated beta service, giving away a hefty 500MB of free 4G data to anyone who cares to take it off their hands each month. For those who need more megabytes, the mobile virtual network operator will also sell a range of per-paid plans, but in addition to that, it’s also offering users a chance to ‘earn’ more data through social media interaction.
Those interested in FreedomPop’s rather generous offer have precisely two weeks to say so, before it dishes out free hot-spots and USBs to the expected thousands that take them up on their offer.
On the face of things, FreedomPop’s offer sounds like it’s too good to be true, but a closer look does reveal some minor hitches with its service. For one thing, FreedomPop isn’t as “free” as all that, as users will be required to stump up a hefty deposit for their hardware – $89 for a Wi-Fi hotspot and $49 for a plug-and-play USB, though they insist that this is fully refundable. The other problem is that FreedomPop’s initial service will run on Clearwire’s WiMAX network, which isn’t exactly known for having the ‘slickest’ of connection speeds.
The idea behind the ‘Freemium’ service is that those who need more data each month will subsidize those who don’t. The company hasn’t confirmed its prices just yet, but it’s reported to be mulling over fees of $15 for a minimum of 2GB, to $60 for 10GB of data. In addition, it’s also offering one very cheap alternative just above the freemium tier – for $2.99, users will be “prioritized”, with 1.5Mbps upload speeds and 12Mbps download speeds guaranteed by FreedomPop.
What is interesting is the chance to ‘earn’ extra data on FreedomPop’s network, which can be done in two ways: via a range of offers like checking out certain websites for 3MB of data, or buying products from its partners; and through recruiting friends to use the service, something that earns an additional 10MB of data each month.
While FreedomPop is using Clearview’s WiMAX now, it doesn’t plan on on doing so forever. IF (and that’s a fairly big ‘if’) its service proves to be popular, the company is planning to drop WiMAX for Sprint’s more reliable LTE service sometime in 2013.