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by Gary Woods

There have been a lot of new cell phone programs lately based on not having to agree to a 2 year contract commitment. Being married for 35 years commitment really isn't my issue but when FreedomPop came up with a FREE plan I'm listening. The first question I always have about cell companies is "what kind of coverage will I get?" Well it turns out that FreedomPop runs on the Sprint network so that sounds pretty good but how does it work?

FreedomPop is what's called Voice Over IP (VOIP) which means instead of using phone lines it transfers your voice via the Internet. This is okay because if you use Skype or Cox for your phone it's the same system.

So, what about the service? With the "free" service you get 200 voice minutes, 500 text messages and 500 MBs of data per month. This gives you 3G service which is kind of pokey but still workable. For $3.99 per month you get the same 500 MB but at 4G speeds where available then for $19.99 per month you get 2GBs of 3G or 4G. All that sounds pretty good. I'm with Verizon and we pay $40 per month for each Smart Phone and another $50 per month for 2 GBs of shared data. Our bill is roughly $160 per month so $19.99 is intriguing.

To get started with the service they sell you a mobile hot spot like the MiFi 500 LTE or MiFi 4082 for about $40. Then, you can downgrade your data plan saving a lot of money and use your existing iPhone, iPad or even an iPod Touch with the free App from the iTunes App Store.

When I checked their website it says we have 3G service available in Santa Barbara but it would probably be best to talk to them to make sure you're in an area that would benefit from their service. A free cell plan sounds pretty cool and with no contract it could be really cool so check it out.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc