Price is high on the list of considerations when it comes to choosing a new mobile provider, but not so much with FreedomPop. The UK's newest MVNO has launched today, and as promised, offers a completely free SIM-only tariff with 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of 4G data per month (courtesy of Three's network) -- well, it's free after you pay the £7 for SIM delivery and activation, anyway. That might sound a little too good to be true, but FreedomPop has tried and tested its freemium model in the US, with the UK being its first target for international expansion. The company is still in the business of making money, of course, which is where its paid mobile plans and value-added services come in.
Should the free "Basic 200" plan be a little light on allowances, there's always the £9 per month tariff with 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of data, or the £12 per month option with 2GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts. (By the way, the first month of the £9 plan is free for the first 10,000 sign-ups, but you'll be charged on a rolling basis if you don't cancel before the introductory period is over.) In addition to the premium tariffs, the provider offers bolt-on services that may tease a few more quid out of free and paid users alike, such as rollover data up to a 20GB limit (for £1.49 per month), international calling, visual voice mail, and usage alerts that tell you when your allowances are thinning out.
But why would you need usage alerts exactly? Well, because FreedomPop also makes money through overage charges: 1.5 pence per MB on the free tariff and 1 pence per MB on either paid plan. You'll notice there's no pricing for additional minutes and texts, but they aren't needed, since FreedomPop is effectively a data-only service. All calls and texts are handled by FreedomPop's Android and iOS apps, which may sound a tad unappealing. But, there are certain benefits to this, such as being able to add virtual numbers from other countries (£1.99 per month per number) so friends and family from out of town can call you at their local rate. Interestingly, there are also ways to earn more megabytes, no cash required. Users can complete surveys, download coupons, register for free trials and such to boost their monthly data allowances, and if they're feeling particularly flush, can even gift some of that data to another FreedomPop subscriber.
Needless to say, FreedomPop is far from a traditional mobile provider, and there's no arguing with the free "Basic 200" plan, as long as you keep within the allowances. And those 200 free megabytes could be the solution to an Instagram emergency come the end of the month, when you've munched through all the data afforded by your primary contract. For now, the free SIM-only plan is FreedomPop's pièce de résistance, but the provider hopes to begin selling subsidized handsets before the end of the year, and bring more "compelling plans and services" to the UK in due course.
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