The latest scoop from Forbes may have Wi-Fi-only tablet users giving up their LTE envy: Apparently startup FreedomPop is going to offer free 4G connectivity to tablets via a little doohickey called the LTE Clip.
Designed to attach to WiFi-only tablet devices, the Clip itself is pretty diminutive, but it may be a huge gift for users who can only get online at home or via hotspots. That’s a big load of people — 90 percent of all tablets sold are Wi-Fi-only. But with the LTE Clip, the user just pops it on and gets 500 MB of data per month over the Sprint Nextel network (3G and 4G) for free.
Now, 500 MB may not sound like much, but it’s still twice the data of AT&T’s bottom-tier 4G plan, which goes for $14.99 per month. Plus, people will be able to augment that. FreedomPop plans to offer paid tiers for people who need more bandwidth, as well as an optional free pathway: Users will be able to earn more data by sharing their connection. That’s right, the LTE Clip can also work like a Mi-Fi for eight users at once.
FreedomPop has long been an evangelist for free high-speed Internet everywhere, so it makes sense that it would offer perks for people who are willing to advance connectivity options. The company’s goal is to create an “open Wi-Fi” local-sharing Internet service via broad use of its devices.
Forbes reports that the Clip will work for practically all tablets — including iPad and iPad Mini, Galaxy Tabs and other Android tablets, and even most Android phones. Details on price aren’t known yet, but the company’s similar WiMax case for the iPod Touch is $100, so the price point will probably be in that neighborhood. As for release date, that’s a big question mark too.
The company says it’s still “in early stages of development,” and we all know how that goes — especially for a new product. Even when they put the finishing touches on it, it could still sit and get dusty, waiting at the FCC. That’s pretty much what happened to the company’s 4G iPhone case.