FreedomPop: Free 4G Isn’t A Distant Reality?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 9, 2011

Last November, I wrote a report on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Unlimited Wireless Plans which concluded that wireless carriers are leaning towards ending flat-rate data plans and moving more towards tiered pricing. Not only that, several wireless carriers have illegally throttled bandwidth claiming that it was done unintentionally.

Others such as Sprint have chosen to be more transparent and publicly announced that they are scrapping Unlimited 4G. And we still debate that the Internet is a right, not a privilege. To that effect, I’ve always wondered if and when the Internet will truly go free? On that note, I recently came across FreedomPop – a mysterious startup which aims to provide broadband and voice services to all Americans at no charge.

FreedomPop yesterday announced that it has signed a wholesale network agreement with LightSquared, which is currently building a nationwide 4G LTE network integrated with satellite coverage. Free Wi-Fi has always sounded good, I wonder if the time is ripe for a free 4G service?

Before you get super excited, let’s try and figure out what “Free 4G” here could mean. In all likelihood, FreedomPop may adopt a slab-based approach where certain bandwidth is offered for free and then if you need more than that, you can opt for a monthly fee in different tiers. Or else, FreedomPop may go down the route to have some sort of advertising or marketing partnerships to generate revenue.

To be honest, very little is known of FreedomPop at this point of time. We do however know that it’s a brainchild of Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, and his venture capital firm Atomico. Zennstrom says his company will launch in 2012 to ensure that every American has access to fast, free and convenient communication services. It aims to be a webco (analogous to a telco) with no network and hence no major startup costs.

“The Internet is a right, not a privilege,” said Matt Ingrid, COO of FreedomPop. “With the economic efficiencies delivered by LightSquared’s wholesale business model, we can achieve our objective to deliver flexible high-speed wireless access to anyone at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience seen in today’s market.”

It is believed that LightSquared is investing $14 billion dollars in building its network. In that context, FreedomPop’s plans to offer free 4G defies conventional wisdom. In any case, “Free 4G” seems to be a mouthwatering prospect. I, for one, hope that this isn’t a hoax and that free here means truly free!

What do you think? Please share your opinion in the comments section.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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