With cell phone cost rising and personal income stagnant since the 2008 Great Recession, many Americans are searching for a cheaper cell phone service. FreedomPop is a promising option for cash-strapped consumers.
Founded in 2011 by Stephen Stokols and Steven Sesar, the Los Angeles-based company began slowly by selling 4G hotspots the following year. Through a series of partnerships, the company expanded. Today it is a leading low-cost service provider. In fact, it even offers free phone service, by using a novel approach that avoids cell tower use. While a normal smart phone sends and receives data over the nationwide network of cellular towers, FreedomPop provides a free service that works only off of the “voice-over-Internet-Protocol” networks (VoIP). By routing service this way, FreedomPop only purchases data services from Sprint, its partnering network. The provider is then able to offer a free phone, data, and text plan that offers 200 voice minutes, 500 text messages, and 500 MB of data each month for free.
Beyond this free service, Freedom Pop also offers low-cost plans. The first is a WiFi plan that provides unlimited voice, text, and data for $5 a month. This plan uses the 10 million WiFi hotspots available nationwide for service. Industry experts recommend this plan for city dwellers surrounded by a multitude of hot spots. They also point out that parents might want this limited service for their teenage children because there is no service while driving. The most popular Freedom Pop plan is the 19.99 a month unlimited text, talk, and data package that uses the Sprint network.
Another attractive feature is Freedom Pop’s BYOD policy. Though the company offers many new phones, tablets, and hotspots that range from economical to expensive, Freedom Pop often allows users to bring in their own Sprint smart devices. Thus, a customer can buy a used Sprint device online and enjoy free service without the cost of a new phone.
Finally, Freedom Pop also provides home internet service. It markets its Hub Burst hotspot that provides home internet service of 12 MBps. While not suitable for all customers, it compares favorably to DSL service. Once a customer purchases the hotspot he/she can have 1GB free per month, or can upgrade to 5 GB for 17.99 monthly or 10 GB for $33 monthly.
“Unless the digital divide is narrowed soon, the United States may be headed to the class warfare of a century ago,” warned journalist and best-selling author Johnathan Alter. With such low-cost service, Freedom Pop is a great bridge to help many consumers cross the digital divide.