You don’t have to pay a penny for talk, text, or data if you don’t want to.
So what’s the catch?
Every month you can make up to 200 minutes of phone calls, send up to 500 texts, and use up to 500MB of 3G or 4G WiMAX data for free. If you need more voice, text, or data, you can pay for it — although the prices are pretty reasonable.
You also can’t bring your own phone, you’ll have to buy a phone from FreedomPop, which is a refurbished HTC Evo Design 4G. And the service will be provided on Sprint’s network, so if you don’t get decent reception with Sprint in your area, you won’t get it with FreedomPop either.
FreedomPop has been offering freemium internet service for about a year. Customers can buy a mobile hotspot, USB dongle, or adapter for an iPod touch and get up to 500MB of free WiMAX data per month at no cost.
You can also add extra data by completing “offers” such as signing up for services from partners or by referring friends to the service.
I’ve been using FreedomPop’s 3G/4G mobile hotspot for a few months, and while the 3G service is awful, the 4G works pretty well in the Northeast. With service plans starting as low as $3.99, I’ve been more than getting my money’s worth out of the purchase.
If the company’s free smartphone plan doesn’t meet your needs you can pay $7.99 per month for 500 voice minutes and unlimited text or $10.99 for unlimited talk and text. Both plans are still limited to 500MB of data per month, but if you go over the limited you can pay 2.5 cents per megabyte on a pay-as-you-go basis.
You can also buy a chunk of data with prices starting at $10 for 1GB.
For light data users, that’s still a lot cheaper than plans from most competitors.
FreedomPop eventually has plans to offer faster 4G LTE service and to offer a choice of additional smartphones.
Right now the company is launching its smartphone plan as a limited beta. At launch, only 30,000 phones are available.
Incidentally, remember how I mentioned that FreedomPop lets you get extra data if you sign up through a friend’s referral? If you feel like helping me out by supplying me with a little extra free bandwidth, you can use this link to sign up for FreedomPop service.