[Photo Credit: VentureBeat]
FreedomPop’s 4G service has become famous for its “freemium” benefits. Freemium, by definition, refers to a service that offers free privileges up-front but may require costs down the line. FreedomPop’s 4G service offers free 4G wireless Internet up-front: you can receive 500MB free just for signing up. You can also receive more data towards your plan by selecting certain offers, listening to a video, taking a quiz or survey, and so forth. While you can earn extra data and avoid paying fees each month, you are charged $10 per additional GB of data if you arrive within 100MB of your data limit. For some people, 500MB of data each month is more than enough to keep them happy. Hence, they join FreedomPop at signup and stay with them for a long time.
FreedomPop, however, is not happy with its 4G wireless customers alone; the company is on a quest to offer not only free and affordable wireless service but also free and affordable voice and texting services. To this end, it has partnered with a company called TextPlus (once named Gogii) to provide freemium voice and texting services for consumers in the United States. TextPlus, known for its freemium plans, offers free calls and texts to anyone within its network. If you send messages and make calls outside of the WiMax network, you are then responsible for the additional charges.
Such plans are what consumers have craved for years. With T-Mobile’s recent transition from contracts to off-contract plans with affordable prepaid options, plans such as that of TextPlus and FreedomPop will have to become more competitive if these companies intend to compete. This is not to say that their plans are not competitive already: for $30 a month, you can have 3.5GB of data service from FreedomPop. Right now, with my contract carrier (US Cellular), I pay $50 a month for 5GB of data. While FreedomPop’s additional GB plan would require $50 for 5GB, you will still get more data out of FreedomPop (a total of 5.5GB) than US Cellular (5GB for $50). US Cellular now offers an unlimited data plan for $40 a month – all part of its plan to stay competitive with the likes of T-Mobile and others.
While FreedomPop and TextPlus are combining to produce affordable phone and Internet services, we must put their efforts into proper perspective. Google offers a Gmail phone service that allows you to make free domestic calls in the US throughout 2013 free of charge. Thus, Wi-Fi calling is a legitimate option for many Americans who cannot afford unlimited calling, texting, and data plans. For those who cannot afford these plans, Wi-Fi services are a true help. Wi-Fi email accounts also provide a viable texting option for those who cannot afford to send numerous texts on their smartphone services. Facebook email, Twitter, Google +, and other such social sites prove to be divine. More than voice and texting, however, consumers need more data at affordable prices. While FreedomPop and TextPlus are pushing Americans in the right direction and setting the pace for phone carriers to follow, FreedomPop’s data plan still needs to become more competitive than it is at the moment.