Exactly one year after coughing up free 4G Internet service to the public with the launch of the Freedom Spot Photon hotpot device and the Freedom Stick Bolt USB adapter, FreedomPop has launched the "world's first" completely free mobile phone service packed with 500 MB of data, 500 text messages and 200 anytime voice minutes. The company is also offering paid plans for those who need a little more.
"FreedomPop is changing the mobile market forever with the sole intent of bringing better value to consumers and increasing accessibility," said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop's CEO and co-founder. "FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services. With this launch, we've just taken our largest step to date towards delivering on this objective."
Like FreedomPop's other "free" services, customers will need to purchase specific products to access the free offering. In this case, the company is selling the HTC Evo Design for a discounted launch price of $99, approximately 50 percent off its original price. The company plans to offer additional Android-based phones before the end of the year.
The specs on the HTC Evo Design show that the phone features a Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon chip with SQN 1210 (Wimax), 4 GB of internal storage, an installed SD card with 8 GB of additional storage, 768 MB of RAM, a 5MP camera on the back and 1.3MP on the front. Additional specs include a 4 inch Super LCD screen, Bluetooth 3.0, Wireless N connectivity, a 1520 mAH battery and more.
In addition to the free plan, the company also provides subscription plans that don't require a two-year contract. These include the "Unlimited" model for $10.99 that provides unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 500 MB of 4G/3G Data. There's also the "Premium 500" plan for $7.99 per month that includes 500 voice minutes, unlimited texts and 500 MB of 4G/3G data. The Premium 1GB plan tacks on 500 MB more data for an additional $9.99 a month.
The company manages to provide near-free service by converting all voice calls into data packets on Clearwire's 4G network. The cost of wholesale data is reportedly one-fourth to one-fifth the price of renting voice minutes. Even more, VoIP calls use a very small amount of data: a typical three-minute call only requires around 500 kilobytes. Thus, users will be given two separate data allowances per month: one for VoIP calling (200 minutes worth or roughly 32 MB), and 500 MB for emails, web browsing and whatnot.
"The quality of over-the-top VoIP services is now at a stage where we can deliver the major mobile services completely free to consumers. FreedomPop is changing the mobile market for good with the sole intent of bringing better value to the consumer," said Stokols back in June. "FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services. With this launch, we've just taken a very big step towards delivering on this promise."
To sign up for FreedomPop's new mobile phone service, head here.