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.

Over the past year the company has added a WiFi router for home wireless service, 4G LTE devices for tablets, and a mobile hotspot for nationwide 3G or 4G internet access.

Now FreedomPop is going to start selling Android smartphones which you can use for free.

FreedomPop Phone

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.

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3 replies on “FreedomPop launching free smartphone plans this summer”

  1. Brad we will need more evaluation on this whole company…seems very interesting topic to many of us! These low cost services if they work well are a real bonus.

  2. They are having problems scaling. I ordered one of the Overdrive units 13 days ago; still no sign of shipping; that’s right, after two weeks it hasn’t even shipped yet. Not even an email with an estimated ship date. They start the clock when you place order so I am already 13 days into this cycle with no device to use. I would think they would start it once the device is actually in use. I can’t imagine what the backlog will be like for a phone.

  3. Read the terms of service! If you think Google is bad, Freedom pop makes you sign away ALL your privacy. I looked into one of their home access points for an elderly friend of mine and decided it wasn’t worth the cost…even paying no $$$.

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