FreedomPop: Free Wireless Internet

Posted by: T. Lacoma on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

In March 2013, FreedomPop began offering home broadband services for folks interested in Internet services — for no monthly payments. Advertising a “free” Internet service automatically raises suspicions of a scam or hidden costs, but this particular Internet company has already made a name for itself by offering similar free-service contracts in the mobile market.

Yes, believe it or not, this “freemium” approach to Internet service is the real deal: FreedomPop really does let you access the Internet for free, first through phone service and now on your home network. Before you jump online to sign up, you probably have a few questions about this too-good-to-be-true service. Here are the facts you need to know:

Are There Any Costs at All?

Yes, the company does charge for hardware. This means you have to pay for an $89 WiMAX router that offers wireless Internet services. WiMAX is designed to provide wireless connections without the need for any additional router or modem devices, which means that homes need wireless capabilities to qualify.

After that initial cost, however, the service is free as long as customers stay under their data limit each month. No charges at all. The freemium business model is built on free primary service, with profits stemming from sideline activities, such as hardware costs, extra data costs, or additional service costs that increase value. These activities will allow the business to turn a profit — if enough people participate.

How Does It Work?

FreedomPop offers service by using Clearwire WiMAX networks, which are located in 70 different cities. The company also has plans to use Sprint LTE connections, too. The business doesn’t offer these Internet services directly, instead reselling them at its own prices. If customers live in an area that these Clearwire or Sprint services can access, FreedomPop contracts are a possibility. Various tiers of service are available, but the lowest tier remains free of monthly rates.

What’s the Catch?

The catch is the FreedomPop data limit. The company is entirely willing to offer free wireless Internet, but only for 1 GB per month at speeds of around 1.5 Mbps. This is very low. It’s so low that only people who use the Internet for basics, such as online shopping and checking email, will actually get free Internet. Beyond the 1 GB limit, service charges quickly escalate — streaming a whole video or hours of music will hit your wallet hard.

In other words, the free service that FreedomPop offers is most useful in specific circumstances. Users who only need basic services will benefit tremendously from the no-cost model. Likewise, it’s a perfect solution for summer homes or second houses that are used as getaways for part of the year and don’t require full-service Internet.

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