FreedomPop’s free broadband wireless offering is mutating from an “open Beta” to an official launch. Anyone living in the Clearwire WiMax serving area has been able to sign up for FreedomPop service since October but in a press release issued today FreedomPop touts its “disruptive entry” into the home broadband market with a service “launch.”
FreedomPop also announced a promotion that will double the amount of free data a customer can use at no charge per month – from 500 megabytes to one gigabyte — if the customer pre- orders the new FreedomPop HubBurst, a MiFi hotspot that will begin shipping in January.
The HubBurst enables as many as 10 WiFi devices to share a WiMax connection and, according to a FreedomPop spokesman, customers will pay an $89 deposit to obtain the device. If a customer is not happy with the service, the device can be returned for a full refund for up to one year. After one year, the product belongs to the customer, the spokesman said.
The FreedomPop spokesman confirmed that FreedomPop customers also can use several previously announced devices, including a $49 USB stick called the Freedom Stick- Bolt and $99 FreedomSleeves that slip onto iPhones or iPod Touches and act as MiFi hotspots for up to eight devices. FreedomPop also supports an $89 conventional MiFi hotspot known as the Freedom Spot – Photon that supports eight devices and which, unlike the HubBurst, is available already. The USB stick and the iPod sleeve also are currently available; the iPhone sleeve has not yet shipped, the spokesman said. Several of these devices are available for purchase from Amazon, he added.
FreedomPop expects to make its money from customers who upgrade to for-charge services that include higher monthly data allotments or faster speeds and from partner promotions. The partner promotions enable FreedomPop users to gain more free data by completing surveys or watching promotional videos. Customers can also gain more free data by referring friends who sign up for FreedomPop service.
“If [customers] are really active and getting friends to sign up and [participating in] partner promotions they could get totally free unlimited service,” the spokesman said. Among the companies participating in FreedomPop partner promotions are Lojax, Equifax, Netflix and zipcar, the spokesman said.
According to today’s release FreedomPop already has given away more than 15 million megabytes of free data.
FreedomPop does not operate its own wireless network but instead resells Clearwire WiMax service. In the future FreedomPop will support WiFi, the company spokesman said.
A key FreedomPop investor is Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom.