Skype Co-Founder Launches Free Wireless Internet Service
Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom is about to shake up the broadband industry the same way he forever altered the voice market. Backed by Zennstrom’s, FreedomPop Inc. has launched a free wireless internet service that will directly compete with telephone and cable companies’ Web connections.
Freedom Pop began taking orders today for an $89 modem that will provide online access to as many as 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices in a home at faster speeds than DSL, although slower than cable. The company will begin shipping the devices in January, and provide the first gigabyte of data for free each month. Customers may then purchase additional bandwidth in plans for as little as $8.99 a month for 10 gigabytes. Users can also “earn” unlimited free access by adding friends to their network and participating in promotional offers.
The service stands apart from major subscriber companies because its monthly charges are not only dramatically less expensive, but customers can also choose to pay as they go.
The modem is not the first business venture for Freedom Pop, which has offered free Internet for iPhones and iPods since October. By inserting their phones into a special sleeve, users can access Clearwire Corp.’s 4G wireless network and use up to 500 megabytes of data free each month. More than 20 percent of FreedomPop users have opted to purchase additional data, and the profits have expedited the launch of the home service.
“We see this as a huge opportunity for us,” CEO Stephen Stokols told Bloomberg. “You’ve got this opportunity to cut 80 percent of your cable bill. The carriers are going to hate us. We are going to be stealing their share and their customers. We think this is going to be more disruptive.”
[Image via FreedomPop]