FreedomPop: Giving Away Free 4G Connections

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - FreedomPop wants to give you free, high-speed, 4G wireless Internet service. Seriously! But there's a slight catch.

The Los Angeles-based company is a new start-up from Niklas Zennstrom, one of the original co-founders of Skype - now owned by Microsoft ( MSFT).

Now in beta, FreedomPop really is offering free wireless, 4G Internet data services - up to a point. And that point is 500 MB per month. That should be good enough if you stick to light Web browsing and checking your e-mail.

Need more? The company's 2 GB "Casual Plan" is $17.99 a month and their "best deal", the 4 GB "Premiere Plan" will set you back $28.99 a month. If you go over your data limit it will cost you an additional penny or two per MB. Add $2.99 to any plan for their "guaranteed fastest upload speeds all day, every day."

Additionally, FreedomPop charges a "rental fee" for the hardware you'll need to actually use the service. They're offering a free 4G USB stick with a $49 refundable security deposit and a free 4G hotspot (which supports as many as 8 connections at a time) with an $89 refundable deposit.

At the start, FreedomPop will be utilizing Clearwire's ( CLWR) WiMAX, 4G data services. But the company plans to switch to faster LTE data service as soon as Sprint's ( S) rollout can support it - reportedly early in 2013.

In addition, FreedomPop plans to sell a number premium services (such as device protection) as well as offers of awards of extra megabytes of data if you watch a short video or visit a specific Website.

Finally, some possible good news for smartphone fans. The company is also thinking about marketing 4G add-on smartphone cases for popular models such as the iPhone and maybe some Android models.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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