As data costs with major wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon continue to rise, an upstart company named FreedomPop is looking to disrupt the space with free 4G service.
Announcing the launch of the preorder process earlier today, Los Angeles-based FreedomPop is ramping up production on an iPhone case that may cause some consumers to cancel their wireless data plans. The Freedom Sleeve 4G offers 500MB free data each month through Clearwire’s WiMAX network, among other sources. while the case is limited to a selection of major markets, iPhone 4 or 4S owners could hypothetically cancel their 3G data plans and utilize the Freedom Sleeve for 4G speeds. the case will sell for $99 and users can potentially earn more data, up to 1GB per month, through referrals and other programs. any data that a user consumes beyond their allotted amount will cost 1 cent per megabyte. That equals $10 per gigabyte of data, identical to the cost of extra data on major wireless providers.
However, users that utilize less than 500MB per month could potentially break even on the cost of the case after a few months. according to FreedomPop VP of Product Mauricio Sastre, he stated “the timing couldn’t be better for our product. Carriers are throttling data and increasing prices and users are desperate for affordable alternatives. As the mobile industry flexes its joint oligopolistic power, we want to ensure that we are keeping them honest.”
Beyond the speed increase over 3G, the case also acts as a mobile hotspot and allows the user to wirelessly connect up to eight devices to the case. In addition, the iPhone’s battery life is extended up to six hours with the Freedom Sleeve. When plugged into the case, the iPhone connects to the 4G service as a Wi-Fi connection and it’s compatible with Apple’s Facetime.
Anyone that wants to check the availability of the Freedom Sleeve 4G in their market can visit the preorder page and enter in their address. while preorders may receive the case prior to the launch, the Freedom Sleeve 4G is expected to be released sometime between July 1 and September 30. the company will also be launching a beta test of the product soon according to Gigaom.