According to The Verge, users pay $69 to buy a mobile hotspot and then pay $14 per GB of data. The hotspot is then opened up to the public. When a new user joins, that user is taken to a page where public users can then sign in with their Facebook account to get 100 MB of free browsing.
For every new user who signs in, the owner of the hotspot also gets 100 MB of free data. Karma calls the scheme “social telecom.” Karma, no doubt, will use the Facebook info to target ads to the user.
Clear’s WiMax, which is being phased out by Clear for TD-LTE next year, is being used by several companies for innovative data sharing:
- FreedomPop. FreedomPop’s $99 iPhone case promises free broadband. You can get up to 500 MB free every month using their mobile WiFi unit that uses a built-in WiMax radio.
- Ting, a Sprint Nextel MVNO run by Internet domain company Tucows, offers a shared data plan. Ting customers will be able to share data, as well as voice and texts, across unlimited devices on one account. Each active device will cost just $6 a month. Ting said it plans to release a number of LTE devices for Sprint’s LTE network. Ting currently offers a number of EV-DO Android smartphones, including the WiMAX-capable Samsung Galaxy S II 4G.
- 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.
- NetZero Wireless, in March, announced the launch of NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband, an inexpensive WiMax service for laptops, tablets and netbooks. NetZero’s basic data plan is free, but 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. All data plans, including the free plan, requires the purchase of either a $99 NetZero 4G HotSpot or the $49 NetZero 4G Stick.
Clearwire is expected to turn off their WiMax network in a couple of years. Clearwire covers about 130 million people in the United States. Clearwire intends to have its first wave of TD-LTE 5,000 cell sites up and running by June 2013. Huawei’s mobile hotspot, for example, 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).
Municipal WiFi networks failed because they were generally too expensive and unreliable. City-wide WiFi coverage could cost more than $100K per square mile, requiring transmitters (and mesh networking) on nearly every block. Longer range cellular and WiMax networks could actually provide city-wide coverage for less capex and maintenance costs.
WiFi hot zones in parks, coffee shops or bus shelters are still compelling – and may be getting more so. Lower costs and higher ad revenues are two reasons. There’s a point where it probably makes good economic sense.
If bus shelters can generate $20-$50/month in ad revenue for smartphones and tablets, then “free”, solar-powered, citywide hotzones might be worth another look.
Global internet advertising expenditures will rise about 31.5% between 2011 and 2013, according to a July 2011 forecast from Zenith Optimedia. Internet ad spending is expected to total about $72.18 billion USD this year, and reach $94.97 billion in 2013.
Related Dailywireless articles include; FreedomPop: Now 500MB free/month, Sprint Brings WiMAX to Virgin and Boost Mobile, NetZero: Free WiMAX Service, Banner Ads: Google’s Next Thrust?, Free WiFi with Video Ads Expands, Free Push-To-Talk from Wave, Internet Ad Revenue Up 23%