Ina Fried

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Can FreedomPop Make a Business Giving Away Free Mobile Broadband?

FreedomPop, the start-up backed by Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, says it is ready to begin testing its mobile broadband service.

The company aims to give away 500MB of data each month and make money off various other services. Users can earn up to an additional 1GB or more of free data by taking part in various offers or adding friends to the network.

FreedomPop, which offers service on Clearwire’s network, is offering a data stick and a mobile hotspot. Both will be free, but users will be required to put down a refundable deposit ($49 for the USB stick and $89 for the hotspot).

“It’s a true beta,” CEO Stephen Sokols told AllThingsD last week. “We approach it as a Web company. We are going to work out the kinks.”

The carrier already announced plans for $99 add-on sleeves that can add mobile broadband capabilities to the iPod Touch as well as a mobile hotspot that connects to an iPhone.

Those devices were originally slated to be available by around now, but should be out in four to six weeks.

In addition to the free data, FreedomPop is offering additional gigabytes for less than the traditional carriers. It will offer 1GB of data for $10 a month and 5GB for $34.99, with no commitment or contract.

The company is hoping to make money on various services, including a $2.99-per-month premium support offer that includes device replacement and VIP customer care.

Next year, the company hopes to expand into LTE service using Sprint’s network and to offer a dongle that adds broadband capabilities to iPads and Android tablets, most of which today are sold with only Wi-Fi capabilities.

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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter