FreedomPop announced today the first ever "completely free" cellular service to deliver free voice, free data and free texting. The company's offering leverages Sprint's cellular network to bring subscribers access to EV-DO and Wi-Max; however, actual 4G LTE remains out of the question... for now, at least.
Although FreedomPop bills its cheapest service as free -- and it certainly can be -- there are several limits which keep free users in check. The exceptionally good things to be found here though are unlimited texting and the absence of a contract... Oh yeah, that and it's essentially free.
The free, month-to-month offering allots just 200 minutes of talk time. Admittedly though, its hard to complain about limited minutes when you aren't paying anything. For those who do surpass 200 minutes, FreedomPop can bump them up into a $10-per-month unlimited voice plan -- still extremely reasonable, even if it's no longer free. FreedomPop customers will also be able to talk to each other without using minutes.
When it comes to data, things get a little pricier. The company will bundle 500MB of no-cost data for free subscribers -- a low but workable amount of data for people who don't live on their smartphones. Anyone who skates past their monthly limit though will be in danger of paying between $10 and $20 per gigabyte.
Another sticking point is phone availability. The service will only available to "several popular Android phones" and the prices for those handsets haven't been disclosed. Having to buy a FreedomPop-compatible phone makes the service a little less than free, but it's hard to fault the company for making money where it can.
Interestingly, a company representative claims that 50 percent of FreedomPop's free customers manage to skirt paying for overages -- but that also means half its customers are paying up for going out of bounds. Presumably, overages are a significant source of revenue for the company, making "free" plans financially possible.
Despite its obvious constraints though, FreedomPop's wireless service offers plenty of proverbial bang for the buck -- even if you aren't spending many (or any) bucks at all.