A free ad-supported app from TextNow offers free mobile data service with limitations. The company, founded in 2009, already offers free mobile voice service.

TextNow’s Free Essential Data offers free data for “vital services,” in addition to existing unlimited calling and texting via 5G. The vital services are email, maps, and rideshare apps. 

The company also offers plans featuring hourly ($0.99), daily ($4.99) or monthly ($39.99) data. Users can cancel at any time. There are no contracts.

“More than 80% of our users are connected to Wi-Fi all or most of the time they are using their phone,” CEO and co-founder Derek Ting said in a press release. “With nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity, there’s no need for families to pay hundreds of dollars a month for data plans they ultimately don’t need. With our free service and low-cost, flexible data passes, we’re helping people stay connected while only paying for what they need.” 

TextNow services are activated through purchase of a SIM card for a one-time cost of $4.99. It can be ordered from the Google Play Store or the App Store and used on any unlocked Android phone or iPhone.

The telecom industry may remember that there was a predecessor to TextNow’s service. In 2013, FreedomPop took its free wireless and data offering nationwide and began accepting offers for its 4G/3G MiFi hotspot, the FreedomPop Overdrive Pro. It ran on Sprint’s 3G network.

Freedom POP is still around but the free service may not be. The company’s website features a $10 per month service intended for seniors. It offers unlimited talk, text and 10 GB of data on a 5G network.

TextNow was formed in 2009 and has offices in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Its app has been downloaded more than 250 million times.

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