FreedomPop Inc., backed by Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, is aiming for the crazy ambition of providing everyone in America the opportunity to get on the Internet for free. Well it appears that much like Skype, this crazy/free model may actually work, as the Internet service is now available to the public in an open test beta.
The service allows users to tap into Clearwire Corp.’s fourth-generation wireless network and use up to 500 megabytes of data for free. After exceeding the 500MB free data limit users will be charged an additional $10 for each gigabyte they go over there allowance. However, users can also increase their 500MB limitation by referring friends and participating in “special promotional offers” including watching ads and taking surveys. These boosts can used to increase the maximum rate up to 5GB.
Additional options are also available, including 2GB and 4GB worth a data a month for $18 and $29 respectively.
The hardware that the company offers is technically free; however, users will need to put a fully refundable deposit down of either $89 for a hotspot modem or $49 for a USB stick. FreedomPop is also creating device-specific accessories that will help users connect to their free service, such as the iPhone 4/4S sleeve modem that is currently available for pre-order on its website.
While the beta service is open to everyone in the U.S., there is currently a limit on the amount of customers it will support. FreedomPop is limited to Clearwire’s WIMAX coverage range for now, but there are plans to move to Sprint’s LTE network next year.