TECH
10/01/2013 04:12 pm ET

FreedomPop Launches Plan With Free Calling And Text

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For years, wireless companies have been giving you a phone for free and then killing you with monthly bills. Now, one company has flipped the promo.

Startup FreedomPop is promising consumers a completely free data plan with the purchase of a phone. For the cost of a $99 phone, you can get 200 free voice minutes, 500 free texts and 500MB 4G/3G data per month.

It's an amazing deal, so what's FreedomPop and what's the catch?

FreedomPop also sells portable Wi-Fi hotspots, high-speed wireless Internet and iPod cases that turn an iPod Touch into a makeshift iPhone. The company has a history of selling products with skeletal (but free) data plans, and then letting users boost their data consumption by paying additional fees or jumping through some social media hoops.

FreedomPop customers can get 1GB of phone data for $10, 2GB for $20, 4GB for $35, or 5GB for $40, according to Gizmodo, but that's when the pricing starts to stink. Retailers like Virgin Mobile sell unlimited data for $35 a month.

For many people, 200 voice minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB 4G/3G data is a pretty bare-bones cell phone plan. For $10.99 a month, FreedomPop users can upgrade to unlimited talk and text, but any extra data over 500 MB comes with costs -- each MB over the cap costs an additional $.02.

But while FreedomPop's plans may leave much to be desired for heavy data users, the bare-bones plan at $0 a month may be the answer for those who aren't yet smartphone users. According to a recent Pew survey, 44 percent of Americans don't own a smartphone: 35 percent use traditional cell phones, and 9 percent have no cell phone at all.

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