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Summary:

FreedomPop is tapping into Sprint’s CDMA network to expand its footprint beyond Clearwire’s 80-city footprint. The new 3G service is just a prelude to FreedomPop’s planned support for LTE later this year.

FreedomPop Overdrive Pro 3

FreedomPop has made national headlines for its “freemium” take on mobile broadband service, but it’s never been able to offer a nationwide service. The reason is it’s always been dependent on Clearwire’s WiMAX network to connect its customers, and Clearwire only offers that connectivity to about a third of the country’s population.

But starting Wednesday FreedomPop is selling a new hotspot modem that connects to Sprint’s nationwide CDMA EV-DO network. The modem will likely clock sub-megabit 3G speeds when on Sprint’s network, but it will connect to any Clearwire tower when available. That allows FreedomPop to give its current customers nationwide coverage as well as market the service to customers outside of Clearwire’s 80-city footprint.

As we’ve reported, FreedomPop eventually plans to tap into Sprint’s new LTE network, allowing it to wean itself off Clearwire’s WiMAX systems (it will keep its home broadband service with Clearwire though). According to CEO Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop will start selling an LTE-CDMA hotspot in about six months. He added that the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) wants to wait until Sprint builds up its LTE footprint before making the leap. Right now Sprint has 88 cities and towns under its LTE umbrella, but plans to make a big expansion push this summer.

FreedomPop iPhone sleeveFreedomPop is only selling a hotspot, the Overdrive Pro, on the new network. It’s signature device, a sleeve modem designed to fit around the iPhone 4 and 4S is still AWOL, caught up in the Federal Communications Commission’s testing process. Stokols said he still holds out hope that the device will clear those tests soon. That’s probably of little consolation to the customers who pre-ordered the device last May, but Stokols said he’s hoping that a belated approval will clear the path for an iPhone 5 sleeve later this year.

Even without the Sleeve, FreedomPop has been growing rapidly as consumers latch onto its free 500 MB of monthly data and its bandwidth sharing and earning features, as well as its hotspots and iPod Touch sleeve, Stokols said. He wouldn’t reveal exact subscriber numbers saying only the virtual carrier has “hundreds of thousands” of customers. FreedomPop also plans to launch a voice service in the next few months via a partnership with VoIP and IP messaging provider textPlus.

  1. Nationwide coverage going to make FreedomPop formidable!

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  2. Ina,

    Once again, FreedomPop has said one thing, but intends to do something very deceptive and different.

    Although their website and press release say the new Overdrive comes with free data every month, there’s apparently a string. Apparently only the 4G data is free, (I can send you my email thread with Support). This is wholly inconsistent with what their website or press release indicates.

    This tactic is as deceptive as when FreedomPop first went live. At that time, they said the devices were “free with deposit” but it now turns out that if you keep the device for 12 months or more, the deposit is forfeited. That forfeiture is buried deep within the TOS, and not likely understood by consumers until it’s time to return their hardware.

    These guys are snakes. I’m hardly the only customer who has these complaints, and the Overdrive “offer” is definitely not free data.

    Hope you’ll revise your article,
    \

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    1. Talk about pure hyperbole. Tell me one company that allows you to return your product for a full refund or a better upgraded model after 1 yr. Tell me any company that’s giving out any free 4G data these days. 4$ for access to 3g free data is hardly a representation of snake oil. Snake oil means you get nothing in return. That doesn’t apply and even if you are paying small extras for extra bandwidth or a small amount for 3g, the fact is A) That extra data purchased is a heck of a lot cheaper than through any other data providers and B) You’ve got a $40 3g and 4g hotspot for $4.00 a month. Hardly worth the over the top rant that you seem to be applying to this product offer.

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      1. The problem here is that the initial $99 payment was advertised as a DEPOSIT not a fee. And that the deposit would be returned to the customer. FreedomPOP has a bad habit of burying these little landmines inside their TOS that nobody reads in detail.

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  3. I was notified today via email that Freedompop is now available in my area. On top of that, they offered me 50% off the device AND 2GB monthly cap for $39.99. I decided to buy it and give it a try. I never been on Sprint’s network so if it doesn’t work out, at least I tried..

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