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FreedomPop to offer free smartphone plan this summer

In the early days of this blog we often wrote about a free MVNO called Blyk. While they were in the UK and we focus on the YS market, their model was just too intriguing. Instead of charging customers, they served them ads. That allowed customers to get a certain level of free service — just talk and text back then — every month. The service shuttered in 2009, but it had served hundreds of thousands of customers during its time in business. There is now an American MVNO trying for a similar free effect, but they’re going about it in a completely different manner.

FreedomPop has been around for a few years, offering mobile and in-home broadband services to customers on a freemium basis. For those unfamiliar with the term, freemium means that the company offers one level of free service, with a greater level of service available at a cost. FreedomPop offers customers 500MB of free mobile broadband per month, with the option to upgrade: 2GB for $17.99 per month and 4GB for $28.99 per month. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the major providers.

The mobile broadband is no 3G joke, either. When I first heard about it I expected FreedomPop to offer mobile broadband on carriers’ 3G networks, helping them fill the network as they push their own customers to 4G LTE. But FreedomPop mobile broadband works on Clearwire WiMax, which does have quality speeds in most regions. It’s not available everywhere — not where I live, and that’s a pretty large east coast town — but most major metropolitan areas will have it. And most people can certainly benefit from having 500MB of free laptop data per month, just in case.

(They also offer in-home service that includes 1GB of data for free. It can be pretty slow; the 5GB plan offers 1.5Mbps download, but they can get up to 8Mbps which, while not great at all, is not bad for under #$20 per month.)

Their free wireless plan, which will become available this summer on select Android phones, will work on Sprint’s LTE network*, which is a pretty big win in its own right. Customers will receive 200 voice minutes and unlimited text messaging, which is delivered via VoIP. They will also get 500MB of free data, which, if you’re not streaming video or music over the cellular connection can be a nice little allotment.

*It might still involve Clearwire’s WiMax in some instances, since text and voice are delivered over the data connection. But FreedomPop has announced a partnership with Sprint and their LTE network, so the pairing here makes too much sense.

Given FreedomPop’s other offerings, we can expect other plans — more expensive, but with more voice and data provisions — to launch along with the free plan. It’s no mystery why FreedomPop held off on announcing those higher tiers yesterday. They’re sticking with the “free” message, and they’re really starting to catch our attention.

Via FierceWireless.