Free Mobile Phone Service
In today’s world, is anything really free? Well, FreedomPop (link) advertises “100% Free Mobile Phone & High Speed Internet Service.” It even includes 4G LTE speeds! All without contracts or hassle and you can cancel at any time.
Users of the FreedomPop free service get 500 MB of data, 200 voice calls and 500 texts each month – no charge, no problem. The catch? The phone is not included. However, FreedomPop has some older 4G phones at pretty competitive prices. An example: The LG Viper (Sprint) for $59.99 with free shipping and includes the 1st month of unlimited talk and text (link). I don’t know how long that price will last but it is up right now.
Their product line includes a number of other devices: They offer several Android phones (Samsung S4 and older) and tablets, plus MiFi and other data-only devices. And, for the Apple crowd, they have iPhones (iPhone 5) and iPads for sale – all at pretty competitive prices.
You can also BYOD (bring your own device) – if it is compatible with the Sprint network that FreedomPop uses. So, if you are a current Sprint user, your contract is up, and you like your current phone, then this is a fantastic deal! Or, if you have a friend that just upgraded on Sprint, they may give (or sell cheap) their previous smart phone.
You might be wondering what are the prices for more data/minutes/text? Well, they have unlimited talk and text for $10.99/mo (I assume that you still get the 500Mb data with that). Or, they have an “Unlimited Everything” plan for $20 per month. It provides unlimited talk, text, and data. However, after 1GB of data has been used for the month, LTE speeds will be limited to 3G speeds. So, it is unlimited in AMOUNT but it is NOT unlimited at the 4G speed.
Price comparison (prices are approximate & may be inaccurate – see the FreedomPop site)
- Free service: 200 min, 500 texts, 500mb data
- $9.95: 200 min, 500 texts, 500mb data (balance of data rolls over each month)
- $10.95: Unlimited talk & text, 500mb data (no rollover)
- $20: Unlimited everything (reduced speed after 1gb)
As to the connection speeds, that will vary according to your location and your device. With a good device and in good service areas, you will likely get about 8-10 Mb/sec for download and about 1 Mb/sec upload.
Of real interest, although they count minutes of voice usage, the connection appears to actually be via data. I used my phone via WiFi and when I left the area, the phone stopped making calls. When I turned off the WiFi, the phone started working again! That means that they are using mobile VOIP technology. BTW, the minutes used while on WiFi did not seem to reduce the number of minutes available.
The voice quality is very good. Actually, since they are using a digital connection, the quality is potentially excellent. I have only done some off the cuff testing but the connection (on both ends) sounds very good to me.
There are a lot of “Pros” but the biggest “Cons” are their website and their customer service. The website is difficult to use. Navigation is no problem but each page looks pretty much like all the others (list of available devices for sale). It is very difficult (impossible?) to compare the various “plans” and pricing. Customer Service is typical for “low end” service. (Note: this may be better now, my experience was several months ago.) I found that when I ordered online, the system was buggy and I never even received a confirmation of purchase. I called on the phone and it was difficult to communicate, but they said that the sale was confirmed. However, I never received an email or anything from the company until a couple weeks later when the phone arrived. BTW, my month of service started from the moment that I completed the order – even though I did not receive the phone until much later.
Last month, at the end of the accounting period, even though I have my account to automatically refresh each month, there were several hours when the service was not available. Their website listed quite a few people who had a similar failure at the changeover from month to month. Evidently, there is some type of software bug but I trust that it will be worked out soon.
The Sprint service coverage is not very good here where I live. I had to use the system’s “Get Anyway” option before I could even proceed with the order. However, there is SOME service here, and when I visit the nearby towns, the service is good. That may be a concern for some users.
The TAKE AWAY: If you are a casual user of the Internet, this service could be a great money saver! The free service of 500Mb per month is more than enough for most users of email and some light surfing on the web. If the free 200 minutes and 500 texts is not enough, then get the unlimited voice and text for just $10.99 per month. If you frequent watch YouTube and stream Pandora, then you will almost certainly use more than the 500Mb and the $20 “unlimited everything” only offers 1Gb of data at 4G speed – that may not be enough. However, if you are frequently in a WiFi area, all calls & data usage while on WiFi appear NOT to count against the limits – that is GREAT!
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FREEDOM POP? I would be interested to hear your comments (below). Personally, even though the data limits are too severe for me, I am HAPPY that they are shaking up the mobile phone industry!