FreedomPop, backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, is developing an iPhone 4/4S case that provides free wireless broadband. Using Clearwire’s WiMax system, FreedomPop’s “freemium” WiMax service will deliver up to 1GB/month at no cost. It’s an iPhone 4/4S case with an integrated WiMax radio, provides a mobile hotspot.
Those who go over the 1GB limit will be charged one penny per gigabyte. If offers 1GB of free data per month for, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, it could be facing a tough road ahead, says Forbes.
ClearWire’s 4G network isn’t as fast as AT&T or Verizon, and service is often spottier, mostly due to Clear’s higher frequency (2.6 GHz band). Perhaps more significantly, the FreedomPop service is limited only to WiMax coverage areas – with no 3G fall back.
Each user has to shell out something like $99 for a WiMax-friendly iPhone case, which will be fully refundable to customers if they ever choose to discontinue their service, so long as the sleeve is still in good condition. FreedomPop reportedly hopes to convert 10-15% of their free users into paying customers, which will subsidize the service for everyone else.
Other “free” internet services include:
- NetZero Wireless, last week announced the launch of NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband, an inexpensive WiMax service for laptops, tablets and netbooks. NetZero’s basic data plan is also free. All data plans, including the free plan, requires the purchase of either a $99 NetZero 4G HotSpot or the $49 NetZero 4G Stick. The free service is limited to 200MB of data a month. Basic $9.95/month service is limited to 500 MB/mo. You get 1 GB/month with the $19.95/month service.
- Republic Wireless pledged “unlimited” voice and data service for $19 per month, but only if most traffic was routed to Wi-Fi. Currently, customers pay $199 up front for their first month of service and for the LG Optimus smartphone running version 2.3 Android. If customers want to continue with the no-contract service, they can pay $19 a month plus taxes after that, but can cancel the service at any time without an early termination fee.
Clearwire intends to have its first wave of TD-LTE 5,000 cell sites up and running by June 2013, the company said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call (transcript). Huawei’s mobile hotspot is compatible with TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, UMTS and GSM and can connect 10 Wi-Fi devices through a TD-LTE connection. Sprint hopes to initiate FD-LTE later this year using their still unused “G Block” on the AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz).