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Skype Co-founder Wants To Offer Free 4G LTE via FreedomPop

By - Source: FreedomPop | B 8 comments

FreedomPop is moving forward with its plans to offer free 4G LTE coverage despite the recent setback with LightSquared.

FreedomPop, which is backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, said on Wednesday that it's partnering with Clearwire to provide a "disruptive" mobile 4G broadband service for consumers, free of charge, here in the U.S. Clearwire currently offers a 4G mobile broadband network covering more than 130 million Americans, but FreedomPop is hoping to offer even faster speeds once Clearwire's planned 4G LTE Advanced-ready network comes online.

"FreedomPop's ultimate goal of providing our customers with a free mobile broadband alternative will soon be realized thanks to Clearwire's proven 4G network services," said Tony Miller, FreedomPop's VP of Marketing. "This agreement enables FreedomPop to offer a disruptive retail service, providing free, flexible, high-speed internet access to millions of Americans."

The "strategic wholesale relationship" formed between the two parties will see FreedomPop paying wholesale rates for access to Clearwire's 4G network. Specific terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

The news arrives just after the FCC said it plans to kill LightSquared's terrestrial network waiver, FreedomPop's original mobile network of choice prior to Wednesday's announcement.

"LightSquared’s proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband and enhance competition," the FCC said in a statement. "The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted.  This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission’s International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved."

"NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time," the FCCadded.

Plans to launch a free mobile service was revealed to the public back in December, but Miller just recently explained to Forbes how the business model will work. He said there will be a "free" basic service that most of the customers will use, but premium users (bandwidth hogs) will be charged a fee -- this latter group will account for 10 to 15-percent of the overall customer base, he said.

FreedomPop won't sell devices, but it will loan out modems as long as customers put down a deposit. Three items will be up for borrowing: a USB dongle, a mobile hotspot and a third mystery device. Users will only be able to access the 4G LTE network through these three devices. That said, the service may be free, but will still require money upfront, requiring either a $49 or a $29 deposit -- that final price is still up in the air.

So how much data will freemium subscribers get with this new service? FreedomPop may enforce strict data caps or throttle back speeds to prevent users from streaming video without a premium plan. Like Dropbox and other services that sell premium plans by offering free access on a limited level, the upcoming 4G LTE will undoubtedly have some type of restrictions limiting free data usage.

We expect to hear more about the plans shortly, perhaps later this month at Mobile World Congress?

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  • 5 Hide
    sinfulpotato , February 16, 2012 12:36 PM
    The only thing interesting in this article is the word "free".
  • 3 Hide
    house70 , February 16, 2012 12:44 PM
    IF this starts up the way they want it, it will OK in the beginning, then they'll get greedy, like every wireless provider out there.
  • 5 Hide
    nhat11 , February 16, 2012 12:57 PM
    house70IF this starts up the way they want it, it will OK in the beginning, then they'll get greedy, like every wireless provider out there.


    No they'll realize they're in way over their heads and start jacking up prices.
  • Display all 8 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    drwho1 , February 16, 2012 1:03 PM
    "FreedomPop won't sell devices, but it will loan out modems as long as customers put down a deposit. Three items will be up for borrowing: a USB dongle, a mobile hotspot and a third mystery device. "

    Mystery device?
    A Cell Phone?
  • 1 Hide
    wiyosaya , February 16, 2012 1:14 PM
    I live in a "Clear" area, and their 4G WiFi services is spotty at best. I tried it with a USB modem as I wanted to replace the goon squad, Time Warner, for my internet service. Their 3G was much faster than their 4G in my home, so I returned the modem the next day.

    I certainly hope that if this comes about, it will be more widely available. I am keeping my eye open for any opportunity to replace the "goon squad."
  • 1 Hide
    jasonpwns , February 16, 2012 1:29 PM
    nhat11No they'll realize they're in way over their heads and start jacking up prices.


    Considering what Skype sold for, and the fact you don't even know all the details, Id say there is a good chance they know what they're doing.
  • -2 Hide
    jaber2 , February 16, 2012 2:38 PM
    For those who didn't read the whole thing, it is not free, only if you call paying $5 per month free, it will cost you something either equipment or deposit it will cost something, for it to be free it would have to be an app I can launch anywhere without any of the deposits or limitation.
  • 0 Hide
    dark_lord69 , February 16, 2012 5:26 PM
    Got a few questions but I'm very interested if they provide service here...
    How fast?
    How much for the premium service?
    What are the data caps?
    If they are cheaper than my cable company I would love to climb aboard! : )
    Cause the cable internet I am paying for is a total ripoff.
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