Clearwire-based wireless provider FreedomPop is responsible for one of mobile service's most interesting experiments: its "freemium" mobile broadband program offers a limited amount of WiMAX data for the cost of a dongle or hotspot, with the option to complete sponsored offers or pay to get more. But more ambitiously, it's also set its sights on home broadband. The Hub Burst modem was announced late last year, and it's now on sale for $89 after starting pre-orders in December; FreedomPop itself entered public beta in October 2012.
Unlike FreedomPop's past hardware, the Hub Burst is designed to support a household's internet use, as long as it's pretty light: buyers get twice the free data they would on other FreedomPop hardware, but it's still only 1GB a month. For $9.99 a month, you can bump that up to 10GB — still not a princely amount, but quite reasonable for the price, and users can get more data through sponsored offers. As with dongles and hotspots, the payment is more of a deposit, with the option to get a refund if you don't end up using it.
A switch to LTE is planned later in 2013
Right now, FreedomPop's hardware runs on the aging WiMAX 4G network, and the Hub Burst is no different. The company plans to move to LTE eventually, but it's not likely to happen until the end of 2013. At that point, users will be able to swap out their current hardware for a new LTE-compatible model. The switch will improve speeds, but while expectations for wireless data coverage and speed are relatively low, competing with wired internet service may require more reliability than FreedomPop — or any wireless provider — is able to provide at this point.