Home - , - Scratch Wireless Launches Free WiFi-First Mobile Service

Scratch Wireless Launches Free WiFi-First Mobile Service

Scratch Wireless, a new Sprint MVNO, launched today calling itself "the world's first free mobile service for text, data and voice".  It's not really the first however, FreedomPop launched its free service two weeks ago. But the average user could care less who was first, the real question is how does it work and is it really free?

Like Republic Wireless, FreedomPop and TextNow, Scratch is a "WiFi-First" service. Scratch phones run software that routes calls, texts and data over WiFi whenever possible. When there's no WiFi, Scratch uses the Sprint network. Calls and texts over WiFi are free as you would expect.

Where Scratch gets interesting is when you are out of WiFi range. Scratch is using the freemium model. The free part is texting, Scratch makes texting free whether users are on a Wi-Fi network or not. To use voice or data away from WiFi you need to buy a Cellular Pass. There are 24 Hour and 30 Day Passes priced as follows:

  • $1.49 - 30 minutes of calling good for 24 hours
  • $1.49 - 25 MBs of data good for 24 hours
  • $14.99 - 250 minutes of calling good for 30 days
  • $14.99 - 200 MBs of data good for 30 days
Pass prices seem high but Scratch has to pay Sprint for all that free texting somehow. Scratch could still be a good deal for users who are around WiFi most of the time and only need to buy a day pass occasionally. Passes can be conveniently purchased using an app on the phone.

To use Scratch you need a Scratch phone. Currently there's only one phone available, the Motorola Photon Q for $269. The Photon Q is an Android QWERTY slider. It's LTE capable, runs Android 4.1 JellyBean and has a 4.3" 540x960 qHD screen, 1.5 Ghz dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP main camera and 1.3 MP front facing camera for video chat.

Scratch is facing some stiff competition in the WiFi-First space. There's FreedomPop with it's freemium service that offers 500MB, 200 minutes and 500 texts per month for free, TextNow with unlimited texts, 500 MB and 750 voice minutes for $18.99 and Republic Wireless with unlimited talk, text and data starting at $19 (plus taxes).

Scratch's service seems ideal for heavy texters who are only occasional voice and data users and/or are around WiFi most of the time. But to make money Scratch needs to sell Cellular Passes. Too many freeloading text-only customers could doom that business model. But the relatively expensive phone should help to discourage customers who are a little too value oriented.

Scratch launched today on an "invitation only" basis, with general availability coming "in time for the holiday season". You can request an invite at scratchwireless.com/coming-soon.php.

Sources:  Scratch Wireless via FierceWireless

10 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Kudos to Scratch for offering an actual complete phone (i.e. not missing a keyboard). I could not find evidence that TextNow and Republic had any in their offerings.

    Non-kudos for the company naming itself after the devil.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting, but for me it's cheaper (although somewhat less seamless) to use a combination of PTel and Groove IP / Google voice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There should be a way to turn any phone into WI-FI First phone with root access.. until then its not good for me

    ReplyDelete
  4. I use Google Voice with a OBi 110 to make free calls at home, PayGo on Ptel, Lyca and RingPlus when out. With Lyca, incoming texts and toll free calls are free. The RingPlus cell is on the free plan. Think I will get rid of Ptel when I run out of top-up cards.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Seems like an awkward phone service for many people. One major advantage of a cell phone is having the ability to call for a tow or to speak with your doctor in an emergency. To first have to activate voice calls would slow things up, and then when the inevitable glitch occurs (like your credit card has expired) in the midst of all this it would be infuriating. And, if you pay for the monthly service you get a lot less than the competition. Not sure this is competitive, and it doesn't offer anything new to make up for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you 100%. Most users want peace of mind knowing that you can use your phone anytime, anywhere for as long as you want and not worrying about if you run out of minutes or need to topup ect..... How cheap can you be thinking that 40 or 50 a month for unlimited is that bad. With todays prepaid choices I dont see a huge customer base to any of these companies that offer these type of plans.

      Delete
    2. Building penetrating spectrum is finite, though. I think as everybody is moving to 100-1000 Mbps smartphones in the next ten years, you'll find "local offloading" to be increasingly important.

      Delete
  6. Do they support MMS?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They haven't said anything about supporting or not supporting MMS.so far. We will have to wait and see.

      Delete
  7. Scratch Wireless increased the daily pass price to $1.99.

    ReplyDelete
Comment Page :