Where Did I Put My Data?

With Dirt Cheap Data, Can FreedomPop Crack U.S. Smartphone Market?

No ability to text means no drunk texting. Just saying.
 With Dirt Cheap Data, Can FreedomPop Crack U.S. Smartphone Market?

I can has affordable wireless bill? (Photo: flickr.com/joshsemans)

What’s a girl got to do to get some affordable data service around here? Americans are putting more money than ever towards their smartphone bills, and carriers don’t seem inclined to cut their rates any time soon. But the Wall Street Journal says one company wants to break the stalemate, with dramatically less expensive 4G offerings. The question is whether they can pull it off.

FreedomPop, which launched today, will offer users five gigabytes of data for $35, and one gig for $10. Compare that to the $80 or so six gigs will run you at Verizon, and suddenly you’ve got a lot more money for steak dinners.

There are, however, a couple of bumps in the road to adoption.

Besides the clunky $99 case you’re required to buy and the currently limited availability, there’s a major sticking point in the fact that the service is data only. That means no phone calls and no text messages, unless you cobble together a solution with Skype or something similar. (Indeed, the cofounder of Skype was an early funder. We see what you did there, Mr. Zennstrom.)

That might deter many of you from wholly cutting ties with your current carrier. Others, however, will likely be delighted to have a semi-plausible excuse for never answering another phone call.

FreedomPop’s biggest challenge, however, might be sheer American laziness. One analyst compared smartphone service to one’s choice of bank:

 “The guy next to me might be offering a lower-cost checking account, but am I really going to switch the whole banking relationship where my whole family is? The unwinding of that process is not easy.”

Apparently we love convenience more than we love dinners out, which is saying something.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com

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