FreedomPop‘s business model sounds kind of crazy — but it must be working (or FreedomPop must have a lot of capital), because the company keeps expanding into new territory.
The company offers free wireless service when you buy one of its relatively inexpensive devices. Customers who need more bandwidth can pay extra for it.
First out of the gate was a $99 sleeve that adds 4G WiMAX capabilities to an iPod touch.
Now FreedomPop is going to start selling Android smartphones which you can use for free.
Here’s how it works: Buy a FreedomPop smartphone and you can spend up to 200 minutes per month talking for free, send and receive as many text messages as you’d like, and use up to 500MB of data.
Here’s the catch: FreedomPop’s service works over Sprint’s wireless data network. Those 200 free voice minutes are delivered using Voice over IP, which means that if you don’t have a strong data connection you won’t be able to make voice calls.
Also — Sprint’s network coverage isn’t as extensive as AT&T or Verizon’s. And if you need more than 500MB of data or 200 minutes of talk time, you’ll have to actually spend some money. But even if you do pony up for additional service, FreedomPop’s plans are contract-free, which means you can cancel at any time.
That said, if you primarily use your phone to play Angry Birds, catch up on the news, and surf the web at home and are looking for an inexpensive way to occasionally use the internet on the go (or you know, talk to someone from time to time), FreedomPop’s new plans sound promising.
There’s no word yet on which handsets FreedomPop will offer, but you can sign up at the company’s website to receive more information once it’s available.
We’ve seen plenty of MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) companies spring up in the past few years, offering inexpensive phone plans that piggyback on Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon networks. But few offer the option of completely free service.