Smartphones Discover New Options Through FreedomPop

FreedomPop has made waves in its attempt to steal loyal customers from major service providers by promising free basic call and data plans for mobile users. A lofty goal, it would seem, but with 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots at their disposal for only $5 per user, traditional carriers potentially have something to worry about.

While many are accustomed to purchasing data plans on a monthly basis, that is to use 3G, 4G, and even in some locations, Edge networks provided by their carrier, FreedomPop claims that most of a person’s data is used through Wi-Fi hotspots, only taking advantage of their data plan networks only 10% of the time. This suggests that most of the data users purchase goes unused, which may make many question the justification for purchasing a data plan from their service provider.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Stephen Stokols, co-founder and CEO of FreedomPop, boasted coverage for approximately 120 million Americans following the initial rollout of their network, and another 25 million at the end of the first quarter. This coverage will be made possible, or at the very least easier, thanks to the $30 million received in funding for this start up.

And it should surprise no one that they’ve been able to amass this kind of funding. Sokol claims that the company has received interest from large tech companies who wanted to purchase the startup before it even premiered. FreedomPop, however, has its sights aimed higher than simply being a carrier. The company also has hardware such as smartphones and dongles to help take advantage of its Wi-Fi centric approach to connectivity.

Sokol hopes to reach at least a million users across the US by the end of its first year, hoping this will draw in more investors who see it as a profitable venture. It would be the company’s second proving ground; in May of this year, FreedomPop premiered its services in the UK. In this market, users were allowed to use pre-owned mobile devices and purchase the service through service providers Three and Jetsetter. Sokol hopes to draw in another carrier in the region soon.

The option to use the UK first was a strategic one. While similar services exist, using data to perform voice calls and reducing the cost of data packages from providers, they generally subsist by purchasing minutes and packages from the competition, allowing them to be attractive to consumers but not too thrilling to investors. FreedomPop differs in that it mediates with the competition to pay only for data used rather than bulk purchasing, increasing profit margins, making more investors interested and eventually growing the span of their coverage. And it has drawn the right attention as there are already imitators trying to copy their business model, such as Sprint’s RingPlus.

One area of concern, however, is customer relations and service. There is no physical presence to speak of, no headquarters or brick-and-mortar outlets. Sokol has noted the concern but was quick to point out that the price margin–1/100th–of the competition is too enticing for customers to simply ignore, giving them the time and funding to address customer concerns at a pace that the competition might not be able to keep up with. He also pointed out that their operation, like nearly all major businesses in the world, now take place online, meaning this is less of an issue for a startup and more of a concern for decades-old businesses that have had to transition to the digital age.

But more important than addressing customer concerns, Sokol said, was to be ahead of them, to provide service and coverage that answers customers’ questions and woes before they are even expressed, that excellent service is its own customer care.

Alternatives for your Limited Mobile Phone Plan

Are you drowning from the escalating expenses of your mobile phone plan? Tired of extra taxes and data charges? Though the global economy seems to be improving, traditional big brand users are finding new and smart ways to cut their phone bills with innovations in technology.

Phone carriers like T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon are known for their price tags that at first seem reasonable, but over time you get tired of worrying about overuse of data and constantly tracking your limited plan. Contrary to popular belief, wireless networks don’t really cost phone carriers any money. This means you’re getting charged hundreds more per year for data than you actually use on their networks. AnastasiaDate advises how lucky it is for the general public as there are a growing number of easy solutions (amazon.com).

Several underdogs like mobile phone application developers and Google are making vital strides in the market. Ever heard of Tango? This easy-to-use phone app lets mutual users make free calls, texts, and video chat sessions. This app could be a quick and easy solution, but still has the issue of overusing data.

Another remedy could be Google’s new Project Fi. This interesting project is based solely on Wi-Fi access. Once you find a hotspot you can make the calls and texts you need to for a small monthly fee. A similar company FreedomPop is offering a similar service. These companies strive to show the major phone carriers that this type of plan can not only be executed, but save customers money as well as they search for alternatives to their pricey phone plans.

Google Becoming a Wireless Carrier

 

There is little doubt that smartphones and data plans have become a major element in the world of technology. As smartphones and tablets continue to win users with sleek interfaces and great apps, the mobile tech world is exploding. Anyone that thought the airwaves were already crowded with wireless carriers and cell phone providers probably should get ready for another big time name jumping into the mix.

According to The Verge, Google is getting ready to offer up a wireless service of its own. However, the company responsible for Android and a whole lot of internet searches is doing things a bit different this time around. Apparently, Google will lease space on T-Mobile and Sprint networks instead of trying to build its own network. Since Google tends to try to beat competitors on price, the lease factor is an interesting one because of the associated overhead.

While only the select few inside the major technology company know exactly what is going on, it seems that other carriers should be a little nervous. The project itself still has to release details, and all that is known for sure is that the data and networks are going to be leased. Since speculation is bound to run rampant, the company will likely release some sort of statement before too long. Without a doubt consumers , like Fersen Lambranho and myself, will be listening intently to see if there is a chance their wireless bill could shrink.

Affordable Calling by FreedomPop

FreedomPop is a provider of affordable international calling. It’s a Los Angeles-based company that wants to change the international calling market by increasing the number of international calling from 20 million Americans to 50 million Americans. Applications like Skype have helped people call more often, but FreedomPop hopes to take a larger market share of the $35 billion annually that’s spent on international calling. Here are some other facts and information that you may want to know about FreedomPop:

1. Saves Consumers Money

Most international callers spend approximately $156 per month. FreedomPop will help these people save at least $1000 annually on their international calling plans. The company’s CEO is hoping to expand to free international calling in the future.

2. Calling Flexibility

Customers in the United States can use their international calling minutes to call more than 30 countries. Mexico, Brazil, China, and India are just a few. In the future, the company hopes to expand to over 100 countries.

3. Access to an International Number

FreedomPop allows customers to sign up for an international number. The typical charge is $8.99 per month. If anyone calls a customer from outside the country, it will only be charged as a local call.

4. The Free Talk and Text App

This application is offered by FreedomPop and offers 100 minutes of talk and text. It also offers unlimited plans beginning at $5 per month. While the market is only limited to the major markets, the program is expected to expand to 100 markets in the near future. The free talk and text app can be downloaded onto your iOS or Android device.

5. Other Popular Services

In addition to international calling, the carrier offers a plan that includes 500 MB of data, 500 texts, and 200 minutes of voice calls. The Unlimited Everything plan includes unlimited texts, 1 GB of data, and calls for $20 a month.

There were talks that Sprint has plans to acquire FreedomPop, but pundits say that most of the reports are false. Certainly, the plans they offer are appealing enough to capture the attention of the great telecom companies that want to ensure that they have a piece of the market share. If there was to be a full acquisition of FreedomPop, the investment would have to be at around $200 million since the value of the company is between $250 million and $450 million. There has been nothing formal from Sprint indicating that an offer like this will ever stand.

As the companies continue to evaluate the potential for acquisition, they are discovering that the typical customer is tech-savvy and budget-conscious, which is not the typical wireless subscriber.

The Best of Both Worlds: Skout’s Melding of Social Media and Online Dating

Though it may not seem like it at first, Skout is the first of its kind. Founded in 2007 as a social media application, Skout launched with a new dating platform in 2009, mixing what everyone loves about social media with the new onset of online dating. Available as both a phone application and a website, Skout was one of the first applications to use global positioning systems, or GPS, to allow users to find others near them.

With more and more people turning to technology to meet others, Skout shows app users people that are nearby using GPS. Users can then browse profiles of others, send instant messages or virtual gifts to close-by users using the app. For nominal fees, users can send virtual winks or gifts to others and yes, there is a feature that allows blocking of unwanted gift givers on GooglePlay.

Users can track recent activities and locations of other users as well, which begs the question: is it safe? Unlike most other media outlets that use GPS, a user’s exact location is never revealed nor is their location plotted on a map for others to see. Skout also allows users to opt out of the GPS service if they wish. The app, which hopes to help people expand their social horizons, also separates teens and adults which is out of the norm for apps of this nature. In the teen realm of the app, which is for users ages 13 to 17, there are stricter and more secure rules, creating a safe environment for teens to socialize. For instance, teens cannot connect with anyone closer than 100 miles away and has parental control options, making Skout a safer social media option. The company also has a safety board whose members report suspicious behavior and inappropriate content.

Users who sign up can create a profile with pictures of themselves, and enjoy the use of the instant messenger feature. The premium travel features allow users to meet up with other users while traveling on business or vacation. Another feature called “Shake to Chat” allows users to shake their device and be matched up with other users shaking at the same time. The feature matches simultaneous “shakers” up with each other in a chat, which remains anonymous until 40 seconds into the conversation.

Unlike its competitors, which are either strictly social media or strictly dating sites, there is no formal back and forth necessary. Whether a traveler wants a companion for a drink in the airport, or a park goer is in search of a running partner, Skout helps create quick opportunities for social engagement.

The San Francisco based company hopes to help singles “break the ice” and it seems to be working. Skout created over 500 million connections among people in 180 countries during 2013. This virtual socialization and dating phenomenon appeals mostly to millennials, as most of Skout’s users are in the 25 to 35 year-old age range.

The app, which is available on both iOs and Android operating systems, can be downloaded in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Portable Printer Developed for Selfies

Selfies have become the latest form of expression in an age when cameras become ubiquitous. Thanks primarily to the advent of cellphones, practically everyone has a camera at the ready.

These cameras, in turn, are used at every possible opportunity, especially when directed towards the user.

Some smart manufacturers thought that people would like not only to upload these pictures online, but maybe print them out fast. A French company has released a smartphone case that prints your selfie from the mobile in less than one minute. 

Prynt uses the Bluetooth connection and works flawlessly. The manufacturers are now working on improving the printing speed. It might soon decrease to 30 seconds, because in our time people like to have everything ready instantly. 

However, only one piece of paper can fit in the case at the moment, and that is definitely something to be improved. Clement Perron, CEO of Prynt, say that his idea of a functional device is with 30 pieces of paper in it.

The Prynt app that you are going to use has the function of recording a short video of the moment before and after you too the picture.  In this new age of selfies, it’s safe to say that even Kenneth Griffin would say it wise to invest in this portable printer!

The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus

What are the similarities and differences between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus? Both phones have Multi-Touch displays, big screens and eye-catching beauty. The iPhone 6 Plus has a little bit more resolution than the 6, but they are both excellent at taking pictures, making videos, playing games and watching movies. The slow motion feature of the phones is great fun!

Both mobiles can basically do the same functions; the iPhone 6 Plus can do them a little bit faster, at a higher resolution and has a little bit more tech that Gianfrancesco Genoso or any technology junkie would absolutely adore. But for the sake of having a cell phone that does what it is supposed to do with some impressive tech, the iPhone 6 may be the winner.

With so many similarities between both phones, which one would customers want to spend their hard earned cash? Some people have loved all of the features that both cells offer. The factors that seem to weigh in the most are more tech versus practicality in size.

Some users of iPhone 6 Plus have stated that the phone is too unwieldy and cumbersome. One person complained that after holding the device for a while that her arm and hand started to cramp! It is also hard to fit into the pocket of a person’s pants.

On the flip side, many people loved the larger size of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Will AT&T Be Sending You a Refund?

A settlement was reached between The Federal Trade Commission and AT&T yesterday. AT&T must pay $105 million in refunds and penalties for allegedly using a practice referred to as “cramming.” The complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. AT&T agreed to pay $80 million to the FTC to provide refunds for customers who believe they have been charged for services they did not approve. Fees and penalties for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia make up another $20 million. In addition, a penalty of $5 million goes to the Federal Communications Commission. Cramming is the illegal practice of adding unauthorized charges to the consumer’s bill by the phone company.

The charges could be for subscriptions from a third-party vendor for ring tones or text message services that offer horoscope, “fun facts” or advice on love or other topics. The cost to the consumer was usually $9.99 a month, from which AT&T raked off at least 35 percent. Since customers, one being Marnie Bennett, may not have intentionally signed up for these services and the phone bill does not show exactly what they are being charged for, many customers didn’t even complain. Even so, in 2011 AT&T received 1.3 million calls about these charges from third-party vendors. So many complaints were registered that in October of 2011 AT&T reduced the amount of monthly charges they would refund from 3 to 2 months. Some customers were told to contact the third-party vendor that provided the services for a refund.

Going forward AT&T must have “consumers’ express, informed consent” prior to adding any third-party charges to the customer’s bill, according to the FTC Website. In addition they are required to notify any customers who were billed for unapproved charges about the settlement. AT&T customers who think they were unfairly charged can submit a refund claim at www.ftc.gov/att or contact the settlement administrator at 1-877-819-9692.