updated 10:15 am EDT, Wed June 5, 2013
Free voice, data allocations supplemented by up-front phone cost, extras
Mobile data provider FreedomPop is expanding its service to offer voice calls and text messages at no charge to its customers. The carrier, working over WiMAX and CDMA with future use of Sprint's LTE network promised, will be offering free data, voice calls using VoIP and texts every month to buyers of its hardware, and is gearing up to launch the service this summer.
The basic allocation is for 500MB of 4G data, unlimited texts, and 200 voice minutes per month, though calls to other FreedomPop users will be free. Users needing more will be charged $10 for unlimited calling and $20 for 2GB of data, in line with its existing service.
While there will be no monthly fee for the basic allocation, the devices offered up-front will be refurbished devices, charged between $99 and $199 according to Forbes. The HTC Evo 4G will be on sale along with possible Android devices from LG and Samsung, but specific models were not mentioned. The Android phones will also have some custom software put on in order to function on the network, which effectively prevents users bringing their own devices over to the network.
The idea of a free service could end up pulling a lot of customers to FreedomPop, though the need to pre-purchase a smartphone through them and the restrictions on data and calls may be too small for all but the more frugal phone user.