The CEO of FreedomPop Stephen Stokols wants to make the way you pay for broadband more social and more free.
The company accepts your social network connections as currency in a sense. For every friend you refer, FreedomPop will give you 50 MB of free broadband per month for as long as that friend continues to use the service.
The company started shipping an $89 router today. Once you’ve bought the router, you get 1G of 4G wireless broadband for free every month. The more friends you refer through your social networks, the more free data is added to your account.
In addition to adding extra bandwidth through referrals, customers will be able to give unused data to friends who also use the FreedomPop service. Stokols calls it the sharing economy:
“Today, users pay a big fee each month for a fixed data plan. The hidden secret in the wireless industry is that 80 percent of users consume less than the amount they are paying for each month and the rest goes to waste or AT&T’s bottom line. If I need more data this month while my friend doesn’t, I should be able to share it and vice versa.”
In the same way families share mobile data on their AT&T or Verizon accounts, FreedomPop is going to go way beyond family allowing you to share data with any of your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
The router that makes all this social powered freedom possible supports up to 10 simultaneous wireless connections. There are no installation requirements, contracts, or cancellation fees. If you want to forgo participating in FreedomPop’s “social economy,” you can purchase additional data starting at $10 a month.
In so very many ways, this sounds almost too good to be true. There is one major catch. FreedomPop uses the ClearWire 4G network. If you don’t live in a major city, you probably aren’t in the availability zone.
Later this spring, the company will add Sprint’s 4G network to open free broadband availability to a much larger customer base.