A mysterious startup promising free wireless broadband and voice services to all Americans should rightly prompt a fair bit of skepticism, but FreedomPop isn't quite your average fly-by-night organization (despite appearances). It's backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, and it's just signed an agreement with LTE wholesaler LightSquared to provide the backbone for the service. Unfortunately, details remain decidedly light otherwise. The company says that the service will launch sometime in 2012 (LightSquared's network itself is slated to go live in the second half of the year, though it still faces some hurdles), and it will apparently be focused on serving markets most in need of wireless broadband initially, before rolling out across the country. As FierceCable notes, the service brings to mind the many free internet dial-up services of the 1990s, which relied largely on advertising, although it remains to be seen if that's the route FreedomPop has in mind.
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LightSquared and Skype Co-Founder's FreedomPop Partner to Offer Free Broadband Services

RESTON, Va. and LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- LightSquared™, a wholesale carrier building a nationwide wireless broadband network that will create consumer choice and drive industry innovation, and FreedomPop, a disruptive new company that will offer free broadband and voice services to all Americans, have signed a wholesale network agreement.

FreedomPop is spearheaded by Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, and his venture capital firm Atomico. The company will launch in 2012 with its ultimate objective to ensure that every American has access to fast, free and convenient communication services. FreedomPop will initially target underserved markets.

"The Internet is a right, not a privilege," said Matt Ingrid, COO of FreedomPop. "With the economic efficiencies delivered by LightSquared's wholesale business model, we can achieve our objective to deliver flexible high-speed wireless access to anyone at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience seen in today's market."

As LightSquared's 4G-LTE network comes online starting in the second half of 2012, FreedomPop will use the company's world-class network to power its mobile broadband service and provide advanced wireless services to customers across the country.

Bringing connectivity to all Americans is a key tenet of LightSquared's vision. "FreedomPop represents the kind of disruptive service model that LightSquared is enabling, and shares our belief that broadband access is a right for everyone," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared. "Our nationwide network will allow FreedomPop to make a profound impact by delivering affordable high-speed wireless access to underserved communities across the country."

About LightSquared

LightSquared's mission is to revolutionize the U.S. wireless industry. With the creation of the first-ever, wholesale-only nationwide 4G-LTE network integrated with satellite coverage, LightSquared offers people the speed, value and reliability of universal connectivity, wherever they are in the United States. As a wholesale-only operator, LightSquared will deploy an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing and new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services – at a competitive cost and without retail competition from LightSquared. The deployment and operation of LightSquared's network represent more than $14 billion of private investment over the next eight years. For more information about LightSquared, please go to www.LightSquared.com, www.facebook.com/LightSquared and www.twitter.com/LightSquared.

About FreedomPop

Founded in 2011, FreedomPop is building a new wave telecom company. Its aim is to provide disruptive voice and internet services to all Americans and to ensure that no one is left off the "connected grid." FreedomPop's initial service will launch in 2012. Visit www.FreedomPop.com for more information.

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Skype co-founder's latest company signs deal with LightSquared, promises free broadband and voice services