Connect2Compete is a public/private broadband adoption and literacy initiative targeting low-income users and supported in part by the telecom industry. FreedomPop, best known for a mobile broadband offering that gives end users 1 gigabyte per month for free, will now offer low-income users 12 GB of data monthly for $10, said FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols, in a pre-briefing with Telecompetitor yesterday.
In addition users will be able to obtain devices at a discount. A home wireless gateway that would normally sell for $89 will be available for $49.
“That’s actually below our cost,” said Stokols.
And although FreedomPop offers a $10 per month offering to the general population, that offering only provides 10 GB of data, Stokols said.
“It starts to roll out in Los Angeles tomorrow,” Stokols told us yesterday. Other major markets will follow over “the coming months,” he said.
As with other FreedomPop offerings, users of the low-income service will be able to increase their monthly data allotment at no charge by participating in promotional activities such as filling out forms from companies marketing their products through FreedomPop. Stokols noted that FreedomPop results to date have shown that lower-income people are more likely than higher-income users to participate in such promotions.
Unlike with other FreedomPop offerings, however, lower-income users will not be automatically charged for overages. Instead they will have the opportunity to opt-in to purchase extra data or service will simply stop for that month when they hit their limit.
FreedomPop’s low-income offering is similar to a landline broadband offering from Connect2Compete participant Comcast. Comcast offers Internet connectivity via a cable modem for $10 a month to low-income households. And Connect2Compete announced today that Cox Communications will begin offering a similar service beginning next month. Connect2Compete also enables low-income users to obtain computers at a discount.
One differentiator for FreedomPop is that its service uses the Clearwire wireless network rather than landline broadband—an option that may be preferable for some users.
FreedomPop’s offering also will be available to a broader low-income base than that which the cable companies are targeting. While Comcast’s low-income service is only available to households that have at least one child enrolled in the government’s school lunch program, the FreedomPop offering initially will be available to anyone with zip-plus-four addresses in areas that have a high percentage of low-income households.
Connect2Compete will be responsible for screening potential customers for FreedomPop’s low-income offering through an online interface. In the future, Stokols said there are plans to refine the screening process.
For now Stokols said FreedomPop doesn’t have a plan for periodically re-qualifying subscribers to the low-income service – a reality that suggest the company may find monetary benefits from these customers that make the service cost-effective to offer. The service is supported, in part, by companies that use it for marketing purposes – and the low-income offering could be a good way of expanding the base that those marketers can reach.
Also today Connect2Compete said it will begin promoting the broadband literacy programs it supports through a public awareness campaign dubbed “EveryoneOn.” Media outlets are donating space and time for EveryoneOn ads, which were created at no charge by ad agency Y&R.