A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post talking about a couple of ways that people could reduce their spending on their wireless phone bill, or on their mobile data usage. I talked about a couple of services that I had considered signing up for that were both potentially free. One was a cell service provider that when you shared the service with friends and they signed up, you would get money off on your bill for as long as your friends used the service. Potentially you could end up making money as well.
The other service that I mentioned was a 3G/4G wireless data provider called FreedomPop. Basically with FreedomPop you are able to get 500MB of free 4G data every month, all you have to do is sign up for the service and put down a refundable deposit on one of their wireless hotspots.
After writing about the service I was pretty intrigued, and when my month of service with my Virgin Mobile hotspot ran out, I jumped in and signed up for FreedomPop.
So today I thought I would give a quick review of FreedomPop, talking about what the service is, why it’s such a great deal and how it could potentially save you a lot of money.
FreedomPop – What It Is
FreedomPop is a startup high speed wireless internet company that aims to give free fast internet to everyone. Here’s from their about page:
FreedomPop’s mission is to deliver free, fast, wireless internet to all.
Through our innovative model, FreedomPop is able to offer customers 500MB of free high speed internet per month — this at a time when wireless internet providers are increasing prices, throttling speeds, and adding additional fees for access. The FreedomPop solution offers consumers a free alternative, which we believe will help to restore balance to the wireless data industry and will help to ensure that no American is left off the digital grid.
FreedomPop’s high speed wireless internet service runs on Clearwire’s 4G WiMax network. The service will expand to include Sprint’s 4G LTE network in 2013.
While their free service is the thing everyone trumpets, you can also sign up for premium packages with FreedomPop, which are all at rates much lower than their competitors.
Signing Up For FreedomPop
Signing up for FreedomPop was extremely easy. You just go to their site, enter your zip code and email address, and then it will tell you if they have service in your area. Luckily for me they had it available in the Twin Cities.
From there you’ll be taken to a page where you choose what plan you’d like to sign up for. All of their plans are month to month, and you can cancel at any time. The free option, which I signed up for, offers you 500MB of free data every month, but honestly, you can get much more free data than that if you engage on their site. More about that later. So here are their available plans, although only the free plan, the 2GB and 4GB plans are offered when you sign up:
When you choose the free plan you’ll also be offered a $2.99/month “FreedomPop Speed Plus” option, that will guarantee no speed throttling and consistent upload/download speeds. If you want a truly free service, you can skip this.
After choosing your service you pick your device. They have 7 of them available when you sign up.
- Freedom Stick – Bolt: A USB stick that you plugin to your laptop or other device. Can be used on one device at a time. There is a $39 refundable deposit for this device.
- Freedom Spot – Photon: This is a 4G wireless hotspot, a hockey puck type hotspot. Can be used with up to 8 Wi-Fi devices at a time, and there is a $89 refundable deposit.
- Freedom Sleeve Rocket: This is an Ipod Touch 4 sleeve, that slips onto the back of your Ipod Touch and basically turns it into an Iphone. Also acts as a hotspot for up to 8 devices. There is a $99 price tag for this device.
- Freedom Hub Burst: This is a home internet hub that is launching soon. It gives you a 4G modem and wireless router. Connect up to 10 devices and it will give you 1GB of free 4G internet every month.
- Freedom Spot – Overdrive Pro: Another hotspot that was just launched with both 3G and 4G. It’s the same one used by Virgin Mobile when I used their mobile data, but currently only $49.99 versus $99.99 when i bought it at Virgin! The 3G service was just launched as of Spring 2013 on the Sprint network, and they anticipate having LTE later in 2013. If you want 3G service it will cost you $3.99/month for the Pro 500MB plan with both 3G and 4G.
- Freedom Spot MiFi 4082: 3G/4G coverage as well in this hotspot, and you can get one for only $34.99 right now through this link: MiFi 4082
- Freedom Spot MiFi 500 LTE: FreedomPop’s first LTE hotspot, currently listed at $149.
So you have several options of what kind of 4G connection you can get, 2 of them with refundable deposits, and one with a $99 price tag. The Overdrive Pro has both 3G/4G connections, and a low price of only $49.99, although that may be for a limited time. Their first LTE hotspot, the MiFi 500 LTE, offers a fast LTE connection, although it costs quite a bit more to start at $149.
UPDATE: As of October 2013, you can also sign up for the new FreedomPop Freedom Phone Cell Service as well – a cell phone with no monthly cost!
After choosing your device you’ll enter your credit card and shipping information and you’re done. The device you choose will be shipped out by FedEx.
NOTE: By default your new account will be set to auto charge your linked credit card once you get within 100MB of your alloted data amount. You can disable that feature if you want in your billing settings. I did.
Unboxing My Mobile Hotspot Device
I received my mobile hotspot about 4 days after I placed my order. I was excited to give it a try, here’s a quick video showing the unboxing of my Photon hotspot.
As you can see from the video the hotspot comes in a nice box that includes the hotspot, a quick start guide, a USB cable and a AC adapter for charging. It’s a tiny little device, so small that I forget that I have it in my pocket at times.
The Service So Far
I’ve been using my device for a week or so, and so far the results have been mixed. I live in an outer ring suburb of Minneapolis, and according to their site I should have 4G coverage in my neighborhood. So far I haven’t been able to get a signal there, however. Once I get just a couple miles closer to the inner ring suburbs, however, I get a nice clear 4G signal. The closer to Minneapolis/St. Paul I get, the better the signal is.
I’m fine with that because the place I’d be most likely to use this device is when I’m at work, and driving to and from work. In those places I get a nice clear signal, and good upload/download speeds. Here’s a test I ran from Speedtest.net, although speeds have been even faster at times:
Download: 6898 kbps
Upload: 1625 kbps
Ping: 96 ms
So all in all the speeds are pretty good. They’re comparable to the speeds I was getting on the Virgin Mobile 4G hotspot, and since my home DSL connection stinks, it’s actually faster than that connection.
The bottom line is this. When I get a 4G signal, the hotspot works great! Not bad for a free service!
Getting Extra Free Data
When you signup for the free plan you only get 500MB of free data. For a low user of mobile data like myself – someone who mainly checks email and my sites when I’m on the go – that may be enough data for the month. If you like doing other things though, like streaming audio and video, that may not be enough data. While you can purchase extra data for .02 cents/MB when you’re on the free plan, there is another way to get more data without paying.
Connecting With Friends
When you sign up for the service they’ll give you the option to connect with friends and people you know, they call it Freedom Friends. You can login to your email and have it check your contacts to see if anyone else you know is using the service as well. If they are, you can connect with them, and each of you will get an extra 10MB of data a month. If people aren’t, you can invite them.
I’ve connected with a bunch of other people and get an extra 500MB of data every month because of it.
NOTE: Want to connect with me and get free data? Send me an email through the contact page with your FreedomPop email, and I’ll send you an invite to connect and we can both get free data!
Completing Offers For Data
You can also get free data for your account by completing offers, taking surveys, downloading software and more on the FreedomPop site. The offers range from pay for services like Netflix and FreeCreditReport.com, to free email newsletters and games. If you’re going to do this I suggest signing up for a free email account from Gmail or Hotmail to use on the offers.
I’ve gone in and actually completed enough of the free offers at this point to earn an extra 391MB of data for my first month on the service. So that means my first month I’ll have over 900MB of data for free!
FreedomPop: A Great Way To Save On Wireless Bills
I’ve been using the FreedomPop service only for a short time, but so far I’ve been impressed. When I’m in a 4G area the speeds for both uploads and downloads are very good, and you can’t beat the price. Not only can you get 500MB of free data, but if you connect with friends and complete offers you can end up with tons of extra data every month. Now that they’ve added 3G service as a backup for only $3.99/month, it’s even better.
Using their service can be a great way for people to cut back on their monthly wireless cell phone bills. Why pay for extra data with your plan when you can supplement your cell plan with FreedomPop? Scale down to a cheaper plan, and use a hotspot for surfing while you’re on the go. Better yet, get a pre-paid cell phone with no data, and use this as your data plan like I do! Or you can buy a non-activated Android phone and use a free voice calls solution using Google Voice + GrooVeIP + free Wi-Fi and 4G data from FreedomPop ! It will end up saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run, possibly even in the short term if your plan is expensive enough!
Have you tried FreedomPop, or have questions about the service? Tell us in the comments!