FreedomPop Reviews



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FreedomPop Review by WhichVoIP

In the Internet and communication market, a newer brand of service has emerged as a viable business model in recent times. Some services, such as FreedomPop, have adopted a completely wireless model for Internet access as well as communication (voice and text). Spawning from a small network of startups beginning in 2011, FreedomPop now partners with Sprint and further offers nationwide WiFi.

The Good

FreedomPop mostly caters to the highly mobile individual consumer by offering an affordable and portable service for customers. The company has also recently started to offer solutions tailored to businesses seeking mobility solutions in bulk.

The main service focus of the company is offering truly free service for Internet access and voice/text service. It may sound too good to be true but in fact, the service does begin with free data, voice and text service. Depending on the speeds and amount of data desired for the beginning of each billing cycle, different options are available.

The lowest tier of mobile hotspot service comes with a free 500 MB worth of data per month, where each 1MB over will incur a $0.02 charge, which is ideal for those who seldom access web based services from a mobile device. The next step up is the Pro plan that offers the same amount of data but it also includes nationwide free roaming and 3G connection capabilities - it is free for the first month and $3.99 per month thereafter. The Premium plan offers 1 GB of data per month (2 GB free for the first month) and appears to be $19.99 per month with each 1MB over incurring a $0.015 additional charge.

The phone plans almost parallel the data provisions for mobile hotspots for each tier of service. The Basic plan (also known as free) includes 200 voice minutes and 500 texts along with 500 MB of data. The Unlimited Talk/Text plan features unlimited talk and text at $6.67 per month (billed annually at $79.99) plus 500 MB of data. The highest-level plan does not have a clear name (that we could find) but differs by offering 1 GB of data per month in addition to unlimited text and calling for $19.99 per month. All are free for the first month and each will incur an additional $0.025 for each 1MB used beyond the terms of your contract.

The company offers somewhat outdated smart phones however, most are very reputable devices and offered at low cost. This also includes the mobile hotspot devices as well.

The website includes a FAQ section and a link to a support forum if you have issues. They do have additional value added services for additional fees, one of which includes customer support.

Deals for businesses are available as well. Unearthing exact details requires submitting a form and speaking with a representative.

The Bad

The web site is somewhat confusing, especially when seeking specific answers. For example, when seeking prices to find final cost for different tiers, certain pages would not pull up or data previously found on the page had mysteriously disappeared.

Uncovering final pricing requires setting up an account or at least starting the process by providing your zip code and email address. This is mostly because not all tiers of service are available in every geographic region of the US.

Make sure you read their various terms of service including the Fair Usage Policy and the Acceptable Usage Policy. If you go with the unlimited plan for voice and text there is a fair usage limit of 2,500 call minutes per month and 5,000 texts per month.

One thing that is noted throughout their policies is that the customer must purchase equipment through them to use the services. It is assumed that this is one way they can reclaim some of their costs and continue running as a business.

When you exceed 400MB on the free plan there is a top-up charge to cover any overage fees. Policies note $10 as a typical top-up charge.

Term commitments are offered for reduced service fees but note that cancellation fees up to $150 can be applied for early terminations.

As far as we can tell there is no phone support if you run into some tough issues, unless you include some of the value added services to your plan for a monthly fee.

One item to note is that voice calls are via the data connection rather than over your cell phone voice network. This means voice calls will use some of your data bandwidth. Looking at the FreedomPop forums we found some information that suggested you will see a small data charge for voice calls but that you should be credited back for that usage. Something to keep an eye on if you decide to use this service.

This is mostly splitting hairs but pricing is a little odd for the phone service plans. For example, the middle and highest tier both offer unlimited talk and text with 500 MB at $6.67 per month and 1 GB of data with the $19.99 per month plan, respectively. Because the per-minute-MB overage is $0.025, it is actually less expensive by $0.82 to use the middle tier if using exactly 1 GB. This could be important to those pinching pennies and using between 500 MB and 1 GB monthly.

The Bottom Line

  • A truly free service is offered for users of either mobile hot spots or limited cellular usage.
  • Service tiers for mobile hotspots start at 500 MB with free data at no cost. The next tier plan has a 500 MB limit also but includes the option to connect to 3G, at $3.99 per month. The highest tier includes both 3G and 4G access with 2 GB of data for $19.99 per month.
  • The lowest tier of phone service (which is free) offers 200 minutes of voice, 500 texts and 500 MB of data per month. Overage charges are incurred if you exceed these limits.
  • Paid voice services include unlimited talk and text, the lowest of which runs $6.67 per month (i.e. $79.99 per year) with 500 MB of data and the higher offers 1 GB per month for $19.99 per month.
  • Service is not available in all areas and you will need to provide your zip code and email address to check availability and to get final pricing.
  • Pricing does not include taxes and regulatory fees.

Overall Thoughts

The main focus of this service is free mobile Internet access, along with the option of free phone calls and texting service.

Most are instantly skeptical when the word "free" is uttered but FreedomPop actually offers a truly free service (after you have purchased equipment to use it!). To some extent, this could be considered a similar model to the MagicJack type services in that you need to purchase their equipment to use the "free" service.

Keep in mind, free service is limited so this service will not satisfy those requiring heavy mobile data usage. The paid services are not exactly mind blowing but the rates are some of the lowest in the market. Those looking for a simple and inexpensive device or service for occasional mobile use could benefit from considering FreedomPop.

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