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FreedomPop’s new family plan isn’t unlimited — but it sure is cheap

Why it matters to you

As great as the luxury of unlimited data is, not everyone needs or can afford it -- which is where FreedomPop's new plan comes in.

If you and your family are in the market for a new wireless provider, don’t eat up a whole lot of data, and would like to spend as little as possible, prepaid service FreedomPop may have what you’re looking for. The company is now offering a base-level family plan beginning at $5 per line, per month for 1GB of shared data, with each line receiving its own 500MB.

Never heard of FreedomPop? It’s a mobile virtual network operator — a service that runs on other networks. In FreedomPop’s case, that would be AT&T and Sprint. All of FreedomPop’s family plans feature unlimited talk and text, and the 1GB plan has no attached monthly data cost — just that $5 per line.

If you want more data to share, FreedomPop also offers 2GB and 4GB plans for an extra $15 and $35 per month, respectively. There is also 10GB for $75 and 25GB for $160 for super data-hungry families. All of these come on top of the $5 line access charge, with a max of 10 lines on one account.

Thus far, 2017 has been the year of the unlimited-data plan. Each of the four major post-paid carriers has introduced or revitalized its unlimited plan over the last several months, doing away with data caps, much to the delight of their customers.

The only problem with this trend is that unlimited data is expensive. The cheapest option is Sprint’s, which is currently $50 per month for a single line for a year, after which the cost rises to $60. And even after you pay that much, you’re still beholden to throttling depending on the content you’re streaming. On Sprint, music, for example, is slowed to 1.5Mbps, while gaming is held to 8Mbps.

Additionally, all the big four networks employ a “soft cap” with regard to unlimited data, usually between 22GB and 30GB. Exceed the limit in a payment cycle, and further usage is liable to be slowed depending on network conditions. Those are a lot of asterisks for plans that are ostensibly unlimited, which is why FreedomPop looks to be a compelling alternative — especially for people that are light on data.

Prospective customers can bring an AT&T- or Sprint-compatible device to FreedomPop or buy their own at FreedomShop, which offers used and refurbished phones, as well as new ones at reduced prices.