FreedomPop, the wireless broadband startup formed last year by Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, began taking orders Wednesday for $89 modems that will allow its customers to surf Clearwire's (Nasdaq: CLWR) 4G network for free.
Subscribers who buy one of FreedomPop's Hub Burst wireless modems will be able to download up to 1 GB of data each month for free and connect up to 10 devices to the routers via Ethernet ports. While FreedomPop didn't say how fast its service will be, Clearwire boasts that its 4G network averages download speeds of 3 Mbps to 6 Mbps. FreedomPop said the Hub Bust devices will ship next month.
FreedomPop took shots at top broadband providers Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) in Wednesday's announcement, with CEO Stephen Stokols accusing the companies of "pillaging consumers."
It appears FreedomPop will attempt to make a business out of offering free broadband by striking advertising and sponsorship deals. The company said Wednesday it will allow users to earn unlimited data downloads "by adding contacts to their network and engaging in partner promotions." FreedomPop said it will also sell data packages to heavy Internet users, offering plans that start at $8.99 monthly for 10 gigabytes of data.
When Zennstrom unveiled FreedomPop last year, the company said it had signed a wholesale network agreement with LightSquared. FreedomPop signed a deal with Clearwire earlier this year after the FCC revoked a LightSquared waiver that would've allowed it to build a wholesale LTE network. FreedomPop could use Clearwire's network to challenge broadband providers in 29 states where it offers 4G service, including California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington.
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