FreedomPop Launches LTE Hotspot

FreedomPop’s first product to ride Sprint’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) network targeted to cost-conscious broadband users is the FreedomSpot 5580, a mobile hotspot that will provide FreedomPop’s customers with 500 megabytes of usage per month for free before tiered pricing plans apply.

The device, which uses Sprint’s 3G network when LTE is not available, carries a retail price of $199. FreedomPop is selling it for an introductory price of $149, a spokesman said.  FreedomPop said the device is expected to provide average speeds of 6 Mbps to 8 Mbps downstream, with peak speeds up to 25 Mbps. The 3.5-ounce device allows up to 10 wireless devices to connect. Sprint markets the device, made by Novatel Wireless, as the MiFi 500.

Sprint announced late last month that its LTE network is available in 151 markets, following launches in 41 new areas, including Philadelphia; the Bronx and Brooklyn, N.Y., Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

“With LTE network coverage reaching critical mass, we are now able to offer our customers the fastest 4G service for free,” said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO, in a statement. “We’re taking our free Internet model to the next level, giving customers unprecedented access to the best mobile network performance available.”

FreedomPop, which just closed a $5 million series “A.1” round, also sells a 4G/3G hybrid hotspot that uses the Clearwire WiMax network and Sprint’s 3G network, but the new hotspot and future product plans on the horizon signal the company’s coming, heavier reliance on LTE.

It’s also preparing the summer launch of a “free” LTE-capable Android-powered Freedom Phone that will guarantee 500 MB of data, unlimited texting and 200 voice minutes per month.

The company has not released specific subscriber figures, but a spokesman said FreedomPop has more than 100,000 customers.

Like FreedomPop's WiMax/3G offerings, the new LTE offering charges users when after they surpass the 500 MB monthly ceiling. The current tiers are 2 Gigabytes for $19.99; 4 GB for $34.99; and 5 GB for $39.99.