We just ran across a great review of two “free” ways to get internet access. We should probably put “new” in quotation marks, too, because the review ran last year. But it’s new to us and undoubtedly new to you, too, so we’ll paraphrase the story, which was written by Hiawatha Bray (that may be our favorite name EVER) for the Boston Globe.
Bray notes that he “could not wait to get (his) hands on two new products that offer ‘free’ online access.”
He put “free” in quotation marks because “FreedomPop and Karma, require up-front cash for hot spot hardware.” And here’s the rub: Bray says they “offer a limited amount of no-charge bandwidth. They do not deliver blazing speed, since both use an obsolete 4G wireless cellular network.” Yet he concludes that “FreedomPop and Karma are decent options for basic Internet access on a tight budget.”
That’s exactly what we’ve been saying about the two competing products from about Karma and about FreedomPopfor several years now, so it’s good to have someone from a prestigious publication like the Boston Globe endorse our opinions.
Bray compares the two products by saying, “FreedomPop is the more radical. The company offers 500 megabytes to one gigabyte of cellular data every month at no charge. To get more, you pay $10 per gigabyte. That is a lot cheaper than rivals like Verizon Wireless, which charges $60 for two gigs.”
What does he think of Karma? “Karma gives users a one-time reward of one free gigabyte. After that, extra capacity costs $14 a gigabyte. But the companies do offer several ways to pick up additional megabytes without spending money.”
FreedomPop and Karma have something very much in common: They’ve acquired their bandwidth from Clearwire. Clearwire’s WiMax technology is “ok”, but faster technologies are now available.
Bray says, “To their credit, neither FreedomPop nor Karma bombard users with unwanted ads, but they deliver broadband service in only a narrow sense.”
In the Boston Globe writer’s test, he “got downloads of around 1 to 1.5 megabits per second, though Karma once got up to 2.2 megabits. That is good enough for e-mail and basic Web page reading.”
Bray agrees with something we’ve said in all our previous articles about these free internet options: They may be just what you need if you’re not a heavy internet user.
He notes that “Karma estimates that a gigabyte is the equivalent of viewing a thousand Web pages, or downloading 500 e-mails, each with a two-megabyte attachment. Used that way, the free bandwidth provided by Karma could last some people a few months. After that, they can buy more. But every time a new user signs onto a Karma hot spot, its owner gets another 100 megabytes for free.” Even at just 100 megabytes per sign-on, you could easily rack up a lot of free megs.
“There is a lot of free Internet these days,” Bray concludes, “at Starbucks coffee shops, McDonald’s restaurants, and thousands of other hangouts.” We made the same point in an article titled “It’s getting easier to find free internet access” that listed thousands of free hot spots in every city around the country.
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Source: Boston Globe