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Technology & Innovation

Start Up Will Provide Free Wireless Broadband to All

A start up backed by a Skype co-founder is giving away free smartphone covers that provide about a gigabyte of free wireless per month. Internet is a right, not a privilege, says the company.

What’s the Latest Development?

An Internet start up called FreedomPop, backed by a Skype co-founder and using a similar business model, will begin offering free wireless broadband to Americans this summer. In exchange for a refundable deposit, the company will offer three broadband devices: “A USB dongle for laptops, a Wi-Fi hotspot device that can connect up to 20 devices to the Web, and an iPhone case that will allow the smart phone to circumvent the user’s wireless carrier and can also charge the phone and act as a hotspot for up to eight additional devices.”

What’s the Big Idea?

At least at the start, FreedomPop will work similarly to Skype, the international online calling service, by offering its baseline service for free, then charging for more advanced services. Beyond the free gigabyte of data per month, the company says it will sell prepaid plans at prices far below companies like AT&T. As technology advances, however, FreedomPop will be faced with offering more and more free data to entice customers. The company maintains that Internet access should be a right rather than a privilege. Will you sign up?

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