Mobile data agitators look set to again unleash some disruptive-ness onto the cellular space, with reports going wild over a pair of companies unveiling new offerings.
One offering is from FreedomPop, which plans to begin offering a “sleeve” product that can provide WiMAX and LTE access to Apple’s iPod Touch products.The company has noted on its website that it has begun taking pre-orders on its Freedom Sleeve for iPod Touch that for $99 provides free access to 500 megabytes of WiMAX and LTE services running across Sprint Nextel’s networks. The device, which includes an embedded battery, also functions as a mobile hot spot, providing mobile data access for up to eight Wi-Fi-equipped devices.
FreedomPop earlier this year signed a deal to offer access through Clearwire’s WiMAX network, having previously attempted to hook up with LightSquared for its currently stalled mobile broadband operations. Clearwire’s WiMAX network, which also powers Sprint Nextel’s WiMAX offering, currently covers around 130 million potential customers, with no plans for expansion. FreedomPop’s LTE offering is also somewhat limited in scope as Sprint Nextel has only just started offering commercial LTE services.
For those in need of more than 500 Mb of data, FreedomPop is offering customers up to 500 Mb more access if they bring others to the service, as well as offering additional gigabytes of access for $10 per gig. The pre-ordering process does require an up-front payment for the device, though FreedomPop notes that you can cancel the order at any time within 90 days of receiving the device.
FreedomPop offers a similar device for Apple’s iPhone product for access to Clearwire’s WiMAX network, though it’s assumed that most customers with an iPhone are already linked to their carrier’s mobile data network.
NetZero offers a similar, free mobile broadband offering also running across Clearwire’s WiMAX network, though that offering only includes 200 megabytes of data transmission per month, with customers that go over the limit forced to either purchase a higher-priced tier or waiting until their next monthly allotment begins. The free plan also has a one-year limit that requires customers to sign up for a pay service following 12 months of free service.
The pricing tiers escalate to $10 per month for 500 Mb of data; $20 per month for 1 gigabyte of data; $35 per month for 2 GB of data; and topping out at $50 per month for 4 GB of data. Customers can also self-throttle the service offering to conserve data to what the company terms “LightSpeed,” which limits download speeds to 1 megabit per second, or leave the tap fully open at 10 Mbps. Upload speeds for either setting at capped at 1.5 Mbps.
Customers are required to pay for their devices regardless of service level, with the current selection limited to a USB modem for $50 or a mobile hotspot priced at $100 that allows for up to eight devices to connect to the service using a Wi-Fi connection.
The other new offering is from Republic Wireless, which has also re-opened its “beta” offering of wireless services that rely on a combination of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. The $19-per-month service, which was initially unveiled earlier this year, uses Wi-Fi to deliver voice, messaging and data on Android smartphones, supplementing with Sprint Nextel’s CDMA network when Wi-Fi is unavailable.
To sign up for the Republic service, customers have to commit to spending $250 for a Motorola Defy XT device as well as a $29 for a start-up fee. Customers that had previously signed up for service using the LG Optimus device will be offered a $100 credit towards the Motorola device.
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