[NTLK] Your eWorld is Open and the Internet is FREE!
R A Parker
RAParker at Newted.ORG
Thu Dec 31 17:40:00 EST 2015
A tongue-in-cheek review of an under-appreciated mobile provider. I'll post a link to the formatted version on Google+ and Twitter, later today.
Title Photo eWorld-Open.jpeg URL: <https://goo.gl/photos/W2YP7DmEx8sBzjZQ7>
Your eWorld is Open and the Internet is FREE+
Recently, I upgraded my mobile MiFi experience to use the Sprint 4G LTE network. And, guess what? It costs me absolutely nothing to provide my wireless Newton MessagePad 2100 with high-speed Internet access over LTE. Let me say it again: Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. That’s right. Absolutely FREE Internet FOREVER.
How did you do this, Wi-Fi Master O-be-Ron?
You may or may not have heard of these folks. If you have, you might second guess FreedomPop as some sort of pyramid-scheme reseller of refurbished pay-as-you-go mobile phones. Okay. But does that mean you can’t have mobile broadband and still eat the free cake, too?
Allow me to point out the one important fact about FreedomPop’s marketing strategy—FreedomPop sells very low-cost LTE MiFi devices which include 500MB of FREE data every month, forever.
Do you have any idea what a free 500MB data-cap looks like to a Newton MessagePad connected to LTE broadband? Picture, if you will—for the sake of humor—a drinking fountain installed at the base of the Hoover Dam. Go ahead. It’s safe. Put your face in the stream. Take a big gulp. Now, keep slurping down that stream of data and I will get back to you sometime before the next billing cycle.
Really? FREE? No Strings Attached?
First, you will need to purchase and activate one of FreedomPop’s refurbished MiFi devices. That will set you back at least $60 when you buy directly from the FreedomPop.com website. You can also set up a searchbot to email you at Dealnews.com for the keyword FreedomPop. URL: <http://dealnews.com/b41535/Freedom-Pop/?e=1> Typically, you can find a device on sale for about half the price of buying direct. No matter where you buy one, all FreedomPop devices include the 500MB of free data, every month, with your purchase and activation. They also give you a free 1-month subscription to their “FreedomPop Premier” service.
The Dark Side.
Once your account is activated, you must prepare yourself for the (border-line-blurry) business practices of a small-time mobile broadband reseller. It’s not that FreedomPop intentionally hides important information such as terms, plans, rates and service details, or even possibly hides the cancellation instructions. No. It’s more like…hmmm…their website is strategically designed to make sure that you become (and thus remain) a paying customer. You have this feeling that you’re locked inside a marketing loop that (sort of) gives you the information you’re looking for. In reality, everything about their site seems to lure you to click the Activate button. They certainly don’t want you to hit Cancel.
Three guesses as to what the most popular questions on the Support FAQ are? Wait. Wait. Let me help. That way, you won’t inadvertently overlook this very important link, which happens to be located at the very bottom, of a very long, dynamically generated, home page. Just to be fair, you can also find this link at the top of their home page, as well. But…technically you have to click the word Support, to open the Support menu, in order to get to the Help option, within the Support menu, which is actually nothing more than the very same Support FAQ, which can be found by simply scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and clicking the word Support, at the very bottom, of that very long, dynamically generated, home page.
Ah yes, here it is: <https://www.freedompop.com/support>
And, as if to (not entirely) obfuscate things any further, FreedomPop defines “Plans” separately from “Services”—Yes. I was quite sure it was the “Free 500MB Plan” which I was signing up for. However, you must not forget that I also agreed to, and was automatically subscribed to, a 1-month free trial of “FreedomPop Premier” service, touted as their “most popular services that maximize your FreedomPop value.” Just so we’re clear: You will have to be logged-in, as an active customer, in order to get any actual details about plans, rates, and services. In fact, I’m probably breaking the terms of my EULA by showing you the following screen captures.
Screenshot: FreedomPop Premier Service
Screenshot: FreedomPop Plans and Rates
I highly recommend that you set yourself a reminder, in your Newton’s calendar of course, a few days prior to your month-end anniversary. Make sure that you follow through with establishing your account. Carefully review the plans and services which were activated by default. Then cancel any additional services you don’t need for your Newton.
Everything appears to be clearly disclosed. Except, I didn’t actually find that Cancel button for the free 1-month trial of “FreedomPop Premier” until after they had already surprised me with another 3-months of “FreedomPop Premier”—graciously billed to my credit card. Oh, pardon me. You didn’t notice this feature? All of FreedomPop services are quoted as monthly but are then billed in 3-month service blocks. It’s in the fine print, somewhere, I’m sure.
I must give kudos to the FreedomPop billing department, though. They were very sympathetic towards my ignorance and offered me a full refund, quickly and without hesitation. Of course, I might have overemphasized the fact that I was reviewing their company and their services for a major segment of the mobile blogging community.
Let's just say NewtonTalk.net has Klout. URL: <https://klout.com/#NewtonTalk>
Peering deeper into the marketing tactics and the array of plans (and services) offered by FreedomPop, you can easily see why wikipedia notes 20% of FreedomPop customers convert to paid plans. Take for instance another entry level plan they are more than happy to offer: The “Pro 500MB 3G/4G” costing only $3.99 per month. This “plan” essentially upgrades your Free 500MB (LTE) “plan” to include 3G fallback “service”—What?! 3G service is not included with the Free 500MB? Nope. Confused yet?
If I wasn’t such a cheapskate, the additional coverage area provided by including 3G networks might actually be appealing. However, since there are only a limited number of times my Newton needs to connect using the MiFi device, and a 4G LTE signal seems to be available the majority of that time—the Free 500MB (LTE only) plan is A.O.K. by me.
Various other pay-as-you-go and monthly auto-pay plans are also available from FreedomPop, at prices and rates which are as competitive as any other provider. Once again, they don’t make it easy to see or compare their rates and services, unless you are a customer and currently logged-in to your account.
Use The Network. Control The Network. Be The Network.
>From it’s inception, the Newton platform was designed to be portable, mobile, handy, with the ability to connect to email and text messaging services on-demand. Today, there may still be any number of reasons why someone might become interested in re-experiencing the Newton MessagePad. Once you do take a dive into the deep-end of the soup, you quickly realize that email and Wi-Fi remains the most important and reliable, data transport method available to you and your MessagePad.
Most Wi-Fi hotspots have long since abandoned the insecure Open and WEP connections which were once useful to a Newton. Your only hope is to carry a Newton compatible personal hotspot with you. There is an overwhelming sense of control you can experience when “connecting on-demand” as opposed to having data constantly being pushed at you.
Using email alone, I am able to use my Newton’s handwriting recognition to send and receive notes, sketches, send SMS text messages to a cell phone, tweets to Twitter, schedule appointments, exchange contact information, even update my ToodleDo.com To-Do lists and projects. All wirelessly and on-demand. I have, on more than one occasion, mentioned the added benefits of owning a MiFi device.
Sorry…No Poutine For You!
One final note—FreedomPop services are tied to the Sprint network and their services are available in the U.S. market only. Fear not. You’re probably not missing out on anything special. There are plenty of wireless providers who offer low-cost, no-contract, pay-as-you-go-rollover data plans, which will work with a Newton compatible MiFi device. For those Newton folk who happen to live in the U.S., perhaps it’s time to level up your own Newton experience to include a wireless card and a refurbished MiFi device from FreedomPop. After all, 500MB of free bandwidth—each and every month—might not be something you should shake a stylus at.
Ron A. Parker
Apple Newton User
More information about the NewtonTalk