FreedomPop, who launched a “free” wireless broadband service late last year, has now turned their attention to the home. They will now offer a “free” home broadband service provided customers are willing to buy a home wireless gateway for $89. The service isn’t available everywhere, considering the underlying carrier is Clearwire. FreedomPop currently uses Clearwire’s WiMAX network for broadband access, but does intend to migrate to a Clearwire/Sprint LTE network in the future.
FreedomPop seems to be following the Skype model of offering free network access services, with better paid options also available. The goal is to give people a free sample, then hope they upgrade to a better experience or pay for a value added feature, to generate revenue. FreedomPop is backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstom, among others.
The new home version of the free broadband service caps usage at 1 GB per month, but customers can gain additional bandwidth by getting friends to sign up for the service. They can also buy additional bandwidth for $10 per month. The wireless gateway allows up to 10 devices in the home to connect via WiFi.
“Major broadband providers are charging in excess of $500 per year for home Internet, and continuing to raise their prices – leaving consumers desperate for ways to cut down on their monthly bills for home Internet,” said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO in a press release. “FreedomPop’s early success in the wireless market has put us in position to offer home broadband users significantly discounted alternatives.”
In today’s broadband economy, 1 GB of data per month is clearly not enough for most users. But FreedomPop thinks you can’t argue with free, and there may be enough people who can live with 1 GB of data while paying for additional service/access from time to time. This will be a model to watch.