FreedomPop has launched an unlimited, $5 monthly Wi-Fi hotspot service that will offer connectivity to "approximately 120 million people," according to TechCrunch. The company is known for providing free cellular service (which runs on Sprint's network), but is now setting its sights on more potential customers by expanding into Wi-Fi. 10 million hotspots are being switched on today, spread across fast food chains (McDonalds, Burger King), coffee shops (Starbucks), and retail locations (Best Buy). and that'll ramp up to 25 million by the end of Q1 2015. FreedomPop is mostly concentrating on metro areas at the outset; a coverage map can be found here. Customers also get unlimited calls and texts while connected.
The Wi-Fi service will be available to Android devices first, according to CEO Stephen Stokols, because of complexities around automatic Wi-Fi sign-in on Apple's platform. Or at least, that's what he told TechCrunch. “iOS is far more closed, whereas Google has committed to make Wi-Fi as seamless as possible, something else that should scare carriers,” Stokols said. Expect FreedomPop's iOS app to be updated within two weeks or so. The company isn't saying just who its partners are in this effort — apparently due to contractual restrictions.
As TechCrunch notes, offering service at Starbucks would suggest that either AT&T or Google is involved, though we haven't yet confirmed directly with either company. Getting people to pay $5 a month for Wi-Fi sounds like no easy task; most people are perfectly fine with the free internet being offered at those same locations. But Stokols seems to think FreedomPop's latest move will appeal to anyone trying to cut down on data costs attached to their smartphone bill. It's all small going, though; the company expects to surpass 1 million overall customers this year.