I've covered Republic Wireless "The mobile network that runs on Freedom" quite a bit here on PrepaidPhoneNews. They are running a closed Beta of a service that offloads voice, messaging and data to WiFi wherever it's available to offer unlimited everything for $19/month (plus about $5 in taxes).
FreedomPop's slogan is "The Internet is a right, not a privilege". It's a soon to launch, broadband data Clear and Sprint MVNO that bills itself as "Dropbox for data". FreedomPop offers mobile data for free with a "freemium" model that gives users 500 MB/month for free. Overage data is $10/GB and users can trade unused data with others. The service is supposed to launch this year. Initial devices will be $99 WiFi sleds for the iPhone and iPod.
Ting "Mobile that makes sense", which is the only one of the three that you can currently buy and use, has a unique tiered pricing structure starting at $6/month, where the more data, messaging or data you use the lower the per unit price becomes. For example, the first 100 minutes costs $3. Use more and you are are automatically moved to the $8 500 minute tier for the current month. Ting has an wide range of devices ranging from a $73 LG Optimus S to the new Samsung Galaxy S II for $529.
The panelists agreed that MVNOs are poised to disrupt the US mobile business with new business models that will make pricing more reasonable and rational. Most of the discussion centered around what a lousy deal US mobile operators give their customers and how MVNOs will shake up the industry to give users a better deal.
There were some good sound bites for prepaid fans. My favorites:
- The average US family spends more on mobile service plans than they do for food - Republic's Morken.
- Carriers use high overage charges on voice and data buckets to "screw you" into overbuying a bigger plan than you really need. By going with an MVNO customers can save 40% to 70% over a postpaid plan from a carrier. - Noss from Ting
I also spoke with FreedomPop's Stokols. I asked him about activating phones on FreedomPop for data only and he said that wasn't possible. He said he has tried with his own phones and Clear wouldn't allow them to activate. However, he did say that FreedomPop is very interested in offering phones in the future.