Today Freedom Pop debuts its ultra-low-budget data plan, but even with the free data the service gives away, it's not likely the enticing offer will catch on with the mainstream. Unlike other phone companies, Freedom Pop only sells the data part. And it does so for the very low price of $99, without any contract or anything. For that, users get the Freedom Sleeve, an accessory that attaches to a smartphone or iPod, but what really has people excited is the 500 megabytes a month that comes with it. There are no voice minutes or texts and each extra gigabyte costs another $10/month, or you can get 5GB for $35 per month, which are all competitive rates. Most people use less than 2GB per month of data. (I personally have used less than 500 megabytes this billing cycle.) So, even if users went 1.5 GB over every month that $20/month of data is way less than what the big three carriers charge. (Verizon gives 1GB for $50, AT&T for $40.) This plan should win the hearts of so many cost conscious Americans, especially as we move away from talking to data-things on our smartphones. Yet, if consumers behave as usual, this won't catch on.
Freedom Pop debundles cell phone use in a similar way to prepaid phone carriers Virgin Mobile and Cricket Wireless, which can make things a lot more affordable. Unlike those other carriers, Freedom Pop doesn't provide the voice part of the phone. But, otherwise, it's the same idea: They do not subsidize the cost of the phone, but they also don't lock people into two year contracts. Even when subscribers pay upwards of $600 for an unlocked iPhone, going the cheapest route possible, these plans can end up costing less over two years, as The New York Times's Brian X Chen has shown.