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Old 12-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #1
SteveEisenberg
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FreedomPop and the Kindle

I googled a few articles on FreedomPop (www.freedompop.com) and can't understand how it fits with the way I mobileread.

Suppose Amazon ever pulls the plug on the 3G text web site internet I get with my Kindle Keyboard. Or suppose my wife, who has a WiFi only Kindle, wanted to use email, or read the latest www.twp.com news, from outside normal WiFi range. One would hope that we could then pay Freedompop a $99 deposit*, and $4.99 shipping, for a little WiFi transmitter, and I would be back in business anywhere there is FreedomPop service (apparently about a third of the US, with coverage area increasing).

I went to the web site, put in my home address, and they said I live in a service area. However, when I went to the next step, putting in my Kindle's MAC address and clicking Validate, I got a "no device exists" message. Huh? How do they know that mistaken fact? Would they have said the same if I had a Kindle Fire? And how does one reconcile "no device exists" with this statement on the freedompop.com home page:

Quote:
100% free high speed internet – any device, anywhere!
________________
* Deposit price apparently goes on sale from time to time; this seems to be the list refundable deposit price.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:16 PM   #2
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Which FreedomPop device are you trying to get? And have you tried entering the MAC address for any other WiFi-enabled device? I didn't know that they asked for the MAC address of your device since they don't restrict how many devices you can connect to the FreedomPop device.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:08 PM   #3
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Which FreedomPop device are you trying to get?
None in particular. I was just trying to see what was available. You can't see that until some point after they accept your MAC.

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And have you tried entering the MAC address for any other WiFi-enabled device?
I just also tried our WiFi-only Kindle non-touch. Same result.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:47 PM   #4
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I believe they are asking for the MAC address of the wifi hotspot device you purchase from them.

Quote:
100% free high speed internet – any device, anywhere!
I also believe the above quote means any device will connect to their hotspot. Above the validation entry box you can see:

Quote:
Help us identify the FreedomPop device that you already own, and we'll show you the internet plans that are available in your area
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:51 PM   #5
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Ok, yeah, it wants the MAC address of your existing device if you already own one, which you don't.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:15 AM   #6
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Interesting link. I don't understand how this works, and there is no info on their site: they offer a mobile hotspot for "free" that costs you a 99 " deposit", yet it does not say what you have to do to get the deposit back, if you get it back in full?
And how can this be free? Has anyone actually used this service?
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by xendula View Post
Interesting link. I don't understand how this works, and there is no info on their site: they offer a mobile hotspot for "free" that costs you a 99 " deposit", yet it does not say what you have to do to get the deposit back, if you get it back in full?
And how can this be free? Has anyone actually used this service?
It is not "free". Has a data limit of 500 mb per month for the free plan. But free is relative. See http://www.freedompop.com/service_plan_terms.htm - the devil is in the fine-print. If you use less than 5 mb per month, they will charge you $1.99 to keep your account "active", but then they also charge $10 at a time if your balance with them is too low. Value added services for speed, or data storage suggest also that they will nickel and dime you. If something sounds too good to be honest, it is probably a scam. Oh and you can always go up to the next expensive plan for your "convenience". Stay away unless you are willing to read all their rules.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:32 PM   #8
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It is not "free". Has a data limit of 500 mb per month for the free plan. But free is relative. See http://www.freedompop.com/service_plan_terms.htm - the devil is in the fine-print. If you use less than 5 mb per month, they will charge you $1.99 to keep your account "active", but then they also charge $10 at a time if your balance with them is too low. Value added services for speed, or data storage suggest also that they will nickel and dime you. If something sounds too good to be honest, it is probably a scam. Oh and you can always go up to the next expensive plan for your "convenience". Stay away unless you are willing to read all their rules.
FreedomPop isn't a scam, but whether or not its business model is sustainable is another story. It was founded by one of the co-founders of Skype. The low activity fee is $0.99 per month (not $1.99) and it's reasonable considering they probably have to pay for the upkeep of an account even if it's dormant (they purchase bandwidth from Sprint/Clear), so they don't want to have a bunch of inactive users eating into their administrative fees. I don't know of any wireless service providers that will keep your account open indefinitely for free even if you don't use it or add money to it. Even prepaid phone providers will just close your account after a period of time if you stop paying. The low balance charge is something you can disable, and the purpose of it is to provide you with uninterrupted service in the event that you go over your bandwidth allotment. If you get within 100mb of your monthly cap AND if you have less than $2 in your account, then they'll add $10 to your account by charging you, but as I mentioned earlier, you can disable this and then your device will simply stop working for the month when you reach your cap.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:42 PM   #9
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^ Ok, I rephrase then. It does not sound like sustainable for long, especially offering free service.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:45 PM   #10
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Interesting link. I don't understand how this works, and there is no info on their site: they offer a mobile hotspot for "free" that costs you a 99 " deposit", yet it does not say what you have to do to get the deposit back, if you get it back in full?
And how can this be free? Has anyone actually used this service?
I haven't signed up myself but I know plenty of satisfied users. You get your deposit back by shipping the device that you "buy" back to them. I've read of a few instances where the user had to pay a restocking fee of something like 20% (I forgot the reasons) but in general, people have gotten their full deposits back. They hope to make money on the free service in three ways. The first is that they hope you'll want to use more than 500mb per month and that you'll pay the per mb overage charges. The second is that they hope you'll eventually move to a fully paid plan (and perhaps go over that limit and pay for more as well). The third is that they have a referral program to earn extra bandwidth per month, so they hope that you'll bring in more customers to do the first two things I mentioned. There's nothing fishy about the service from what I've seen, but I have doubts that they can stay in business under their current model. I hope that they can prove me wrong though and then maybe I'll sign up if/when they move to LTE, which they already announced would be their next step.

Last edited by AZImmortal; 12-03-2012 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:47 PM   #11
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My Freedompop device works fine with my Paperwhite. I would consider the paid plan once they move over to LTE but until then, I will keep my usage low enough to not trip the pay barrier, unless something unexpected like Sandy happens.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:13 PM   #12
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I guess what appears scamm-ish is the fact that they don't clearly state pricing and they overuse the word "free" a bit.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:14 PM   #13
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^ Ok, I rephrase then. It does not sound like sustainable for long, especially offering free service.
Back in the dial-up era (and some folks are still there) I used free services from NetZero and KMart. Both are still in business, and NetZero is still in that business. Was it frustrating to use? Yes. Did I give in and buy their premium services? No.

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The low activity fee is $0.99 per month (not $1.99) and it's reasonable considering they probably have to pay for the upkeep of an account even if it's dormant
If I used it, it would be in near-text-only modes, and I'm thinking I wouldn't necessarily get to 5 million bytes a month. Maybe I could schedule sending War and Peace to my @free.kindle.com address, once a month, just to be sure of hitting the minimum.

Free isn't a scam, but there's usually some work involved.

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My Freedompop device works fine with my Paperwhite.
What do you use it for, and how much data traffic does that generate?
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:17 PM   #14
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Free isn't a scam, but there's usually some work involved.
This is exactly how I feel about it. It would be unreasonable to expect any company to simply provide a completely free service without at least a few catches (unless it's ad-supported, in which case the ads are the catch). They need to make money too, and these charges are easy enough to avoid and are spelled out in the terms of service.
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