We've been seeing a whole bunch of hungry little alternative service providers trying to cut into the big boys with low, low prices, but how about free? FreedomPop, the folks behind hotspots and routers that come with free data, just announced the first free wireless service plan. No, really. Free minutes, free texts, and free data. For free. Freeeee.
People who sign up for the new service will receive 200 free anytime minutes (FreedomPop to FreedomPop calls are unlimited), 500MB of free 4G data, and unlimited free texts every month. If they go over, users can pick up unlimited minutes for any given month for $10. Data's just slightly more complicated: it's $.02 per additional MB ($20 per GB) if the user has a free plan, or $.01 per additional MB if the user opts for a $18 for 2GB or a $29 for 4GB monthly plan.
Of course there are a couple of catches. To get on FreedomPop's plan, you'll have to buy a special (doubtlessly unsubsidized) phone loaded with custom OS-level software up front. And that's bound to cost you a few hundred dollars. FreedomPop says the stable will include "select, popular Android handsets," but if other, similar MVNOs are any indication, this probably means aging LG devices (like the trusty Optimus). We're hoping against hope for something a little more enticing than that.
Then of course there's the network. FreedomPop will be hopping on Sprint's fledgling LTE network eventually, but until then its WiMax and CDMA, and WiMax is preeeeeeeeetty spotty. CDMA, on the other hand, is sluggish but ubiquitous.
The service has only just been announced and won't actually but up and running until sometime later this summer, but users can sign up for early access on FreedomPop's website. Discount providers have yet to really unseat major carriers so far, but sliding that monthly cost all the way down to free is pretty insane. Here's to hoping there's no bad news hiding in the details, because this looks like it could be one hell of a shakeup.