'Freemium' internet service provider FreedomPop has announced its latest game-changing service - what it's claiming will be the first '100% free' cell phone plans.
But, as with all things too good to be true, there's a small catch; the service will initially only be available on selected Android phones.
The no-contract plan will give users a guaranteed 500MB of free 4G data per month, as well as unlimited texting, and 200 minutes of voice. Users on FreedomPop's network will also receive unlimited free voice calls to one another.
The service is expected to launch in August or September, with FreedomPop offering the plans on refurbished WiMax-capable Android devices only. The handsets will be available for less than $200 upfront, and the company is taking pre-orders now.
The service will also work on any Android device running on the Sprint network, which is great news for Sprint customers looking for a cheap voice option.
The basic phone plan will be offered at no monthly charge, although users may opt to pay $10 a month to receive unlimited voice calls. All calls made will be through VoIP, with the exception of calls to emergency services (which are made over cellular networks).
Just what is FreedomPop?
FreedomPop has been offering subscribers free wireless internet since 2011. It runs on a so-called 'freemium' business model, in which users only pay for initial equipment and then enjoy free data (with the option to purchase more at a nominal price). Users are also able to earn free data through referrals, or signing up to services from partner companies.
The company makes money by selling devices and any optional add-on services, but not from its baseline wireless plans. According to its website, FreedomPop believes that internet access is 'a right, not a privilege', and that everyone should have the opportunity to get online and get connected, regardless of income.
Although FreedomPop still hasn't revealed the exact details on how its mobile service will work, it's hoping to become the first all-IP mobile operator, by customizing the Android dialer to route voice calls through its data network.
Currently, there are no plans to expand the service to smartphones running operating systems other than Android, although there's hope than eventually jailbroken iOS devices will work with FreedomPop plans.
- Network: FreedomPop runs on Sprint and AT&T's 4G LTE networks. Through Sprint, FreedomPop supports 3G and 4G-compatible devices. FreedomPop utilizes AT&T's 4G network for VoIP only.
- Coverage: FreedomPop runs on Sprint and AT&T's 4G LTE networks. AT&T consistently ranks #2 in national coverage, while Sprint ranks #4.
- Where to Buy: FreedomPop does not maintain any retail stores, so purchases must be made online.
- Bring Your Own Phone to FreedomPop: In order to bring your own phone to FreedomPop, you need either an unlocked Sprint-branded phone or an unlocked GSM phone (T-Mobile or AT&T). Check device eligibility here.
- Tethering: Android LTE phones can be used as WiFi hotspots, and are functional for tethering. You also need to have the FreedomPop Premier or FreedomPop WiFi Hotspot service activated.
Fact: FreedomPop is designed for lighter users who have their phone connected to Wi-Fi the majority of the time.