By Lisa Johnston
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Los Angeles - MVNO FreedomPop, which recently launched free 4G mobile broadband service and free wireless home-broadband service, now plans to offer free cellphone voice and text service.
The FreedomPop Phone service, which runs over Clearwire’s Mobile WiMAX network, will launch sometime during the summer. The service will offer 500MB of 4G data for free, free unlimited texting, and 200 free anytime voice minutes per month. FreedomPop users will enjoy free unlimited voice calls to one other.
FreedomPop’s service will eschew traditional circuit-switched cellular calls for standard VoIP calls placed through “several popular Android phones” equipped with FreedomPop’s VoIP app, which defaults at the OS layer “so the user will not have to do anything different other than hit the native voice dialer on phone” to route a call through the FreedomPop app, a spokesman said.
Consumers will also be able to bring their Sprint-network WiMAX phones to the FreedomPop network. To adapt Sprint phones for FreedomPop service, users would hit a web link to update their phone with FreedomPop’s OS update, which will also change the phone’s branding on the smartphone screen.
FreedomPop-branded phones and service will initially be available directly through FreedomPop.com, but additional outlets will be announced “in the near future,” the spokesman said. The company’s free 4G mobile-broadband and home-broadband services are available directly from FreedomPop and via Amazon.
Consumers who want more airtime voice minutes than the service’s free 200 minutes can pay $9.99/month for unlimited voice. Rates for additional data service beyond the free 500MB are the same as the company’s mobile-broadband rates: $19.99 for 2GB, $25.99 for 3GB, $39.99 for 5GB, $59.99 for 8GB, and $69.99 for 10GB. FreedomPop users can also earn up to 1GB of free data above the initial free 500MB by getting friends to sign up for service or participate in partner promotions.
The company’s mobile broadband service is bundled with a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot and a USB modem.
The company’s home-broadband service uses an $89 home router equipped with WiMAX to provide 1GB of data free per month at speeds of about 1.5Mbps. Consumers get additional free data by getting friends to sign up or by participating in partner promotions. Heavier home-broadband users can opt for paid plans starting at $10 for 10GB at the 1.5Mbps speed, $15 at 6Mbps speeds, and $19 for 12Mbps.
Mobile WiMAX is available in more than 80 major markets, but the company expects to transition to 4G LTE to broaden its coverage sometime in the future.
FreedomPop is backed by Mangrove Capital, DCM and Skype Founder Niklas Zennstom's Atomico.
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