FreedomPop has an unusual model for providing mobile internet access to US customers. You can buy a FreedomPop device and use it to connect to the internet for free — assuming you only need 500MB of bandwidth per month.
Paid plans offer 1GB or more of data for a fee, and options to cut off service when you hit the cap or pay for more data by the megabyte.
Up until now FreedomPop’s network has piggybacked on Sprint’s 3G and 4G WiMAX networks. But now FreedomPop is rolling out its first 4G LTE hotspot, offering average speeds of 6 Mbps or higher, and speeds up to 25 Mbps in some cases.
You can only use the new hotspot in areas that are covered by Sprint’s new LTE network, which means it’s only available in about 150 markets across the US, but Sprint is expanding that network rapidly.
The hotspot also falls back to Sprint’s 3G network where LTE isn’t available.
The only catch is that the new FreedomSpot 5580 hotspot is the most expensive modem the company offers. You’ll have to fork over $150 to pick one up.
After that, there are no monthly contracts and service plans start at $0.
It’s also worth noting that FreedomPop has a reputation for very slow shipping. I ordered an OverDrive Pro 3G/4G WiMAX modem from the company more than two weeks ago and have yet to receive a shipping notification.
The fallback to 3G is not free. They charge $4/month for it. They also don’t seem to have a coverage map for LTE. I have their Wimax photon and was thinking of upgrading. Since I couldn’t find a coverage map at freedompop, I went to Sprint and chose one of their LTE offerings. The Sprint map showed “fair” LTE in my area and “strong” Wimax. If thats accurate it would be a downgrade for me.
Is there an option to disable 3G fallback? I would be sold on that considering that they also offer the option to stop service after reaching the 1GB cap, which is my preference rather than the onset of charges for surpassing that cap.
I also have their overdrive Spring 3G/Wimax hotspot on their free option (ie not the extra $4 option). If it doesn’t get Wimax it just keeps trying 3G unsuccessfuly until it can get Wimax. I assume the 3G/LTE hotspot works similarly.
So to find out anything they demand you fork out a good deal of personal data (email, zip, street address) and then they show you very limited info with confusing terms like “xxx MB free the 1st month” without specially saying what the next month brings…
The whole thing looks pretty shady to me.
It seems clear this is only a “deal” for casual users who can live with 500MB of bandwidth at erratic and slow data rates unless they are in just the right spot for good LTE reception. Even 2GB plans are $20/month plus $4 for 3G. Nobody will be “cutting the cable” on this service. I fail to see anything innovative here.
Now karma needs to do this, I like the idea of my data never expiring
I concur with your note regarding the timeliness of orders Brad. I ordered the same OverDrive Pro May 26 and received it June 27. I was about to cancel when the shipping notice arrived. They make 1SaleADay look spritely. I’m not sure how they are going to sell phones with that kind of fulfillment speed.
On the other hand, it is free service and I’ve used it a few times with my tablet while stationary. The SpeedTest.Net app showed anywhere from 2 to 6 Mbps up and around 1.5 Mbps down in a few tests. For some reason it doesn’t seem to work well in a car while driving. I would get service get a good data connection at a rest stop but when the car went in motion it wouldn’t continue passing data. (I was in the way, way, back doing the tests – not driving) – Good luck with yours
Thanks. I ordered it primarily so I’d have a backup internet option during CES in January, so hopefully it’ll arrive by then. 🙂 If I’d known they were going to release an LTE modem I might have waited — but the WiMAX model was cheap enough to make it almost an impulse purchase. $150 is a bit much for a device I probably won’t use very often.
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