Have We Entered The Age Of The Wi-Fi Carrier?

Recently we’ve been hit by so many different “Wi-Fi Driven” carriers that it’s almost becoming old news. The scary part about the whole thing is that very few people know anything about Wi-Fi enabled carriers, now how much money they could save by switching to one. FreedomPop, FreeWheel, Republic Wireless and even just using Google Voice with Hangouts can, in theory replace your current wireless plan and lower your bill to an non-existent level. The scarier part, you might not even notice once you adjust your usage habits.

We recently ran the first part of our “Living On The Edge” series about lowering costs by dropping your data speeds back to iPhone levels, or dial-up speeds. By making that small sacrifice, you can chop $100’s off your bill each month. Taking things a step further, companies like FreedomPop will leverage your home and office Wi-Fi connections (and anywhere else you can hook up to) and give you free service.

Lesser deals, like the FreeWheel wireless service for Optimum subscribers (Cablevision), can still be a value if you are hooked up to the right providers, but aren’t quite as strong as the offerings from FreedomPop and Republic. Even with the “Wi-Fi is everywhere” thought pattern, there still may be a time when you need to roll to a cellular network for communications. That’s why offerings like FreedomPop and Republic are still the best options.

Both FreedomPop and Republic feel that you already pay for Wi-Fi service, so why should you have to pay more to use that network for voice and data at home? By cutting the cordless cord and sticking to Wi-Fi, FreedomPop and Republic offer you full coverage for less than a cup of coffee and a bagel. FreedomPop actually goes a step further and offers completely free coverage for the light user and an unlimited talk and text plan for under $7 a month when you buy a year of service for $79.99.

There are certainly many things pointing to a Wi-Fi based communications network and when you live in a big city like New York or Chicago now that are rolling out public Wi-Fi hot spots in parks and other public areas, a case can be made to switching to a Wi-Fi only solution and cutting your bill to nothing. Until those spaces are fully rolled out though, it’s up to those cell towers to give us a bit more coverage in those out of the way places. That said, models like FreedomPop and Republic Wireless are probably the way that most people will be buying their cell devices in the next few years. Lower cost per month for slightly less usage will definitely help the budget conscience people justify making the switch.

By the numbers:

Republic Wireless – $99 Moto E – $10 unlimited calling & text = $349 24/mo

FreedomPop – $139 Samsung Galaxy S3 – $79.99 unlimited calling & text = $298.98 24/mo

T-Mobile – $129 Base Android – $40 unlimited calling & text – $1089 24/mo

Ptel Mobile – $99 Blu Advance 4.0 – $25 unlimited calling, text & 2G = $699 24/mo


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