Do you really need to pay a big monthly fee for cell service when you could be using Wi-Fi networks? Scratch Wireless thinks not, and the company has just announced the world’s first entirely free cellphone service … kinda. The idea is that, since wireless networks are freely available all over the place, your phone can default to Wi-Fi wherever possible, and it only has to use cellular networks to fill in the gaps. For those who want a second phone (or don’t want to pay a bill) this could be a dream come true.
According to the Cisco report “A New Chapter for Mobile: How Wi-Fi Will Change the Mobile Industry as We Know It” 80 percent of the time that people connect to the Internet via their mobile network they are actually within reach of Wi-Fi. With Scratch Wireless you would use Wi-Fi as your default for calls, texts, and data, but to cover the times when you can’t access Wi-Fi they offer cellular coverage on Sprint’s network for data or voice calls at $2 each per day, or $15 each for 30 days.
Here comes the catch. You have to buy a Scratch phone; it’s currently offering the Motorola Photon Q for $270. It’s a mid-range Android smartphone running 4.1 Jelly Bean, with a 4.3-inch display (540 x 960 pixel resolution), 4G LTE support, and an 8-megapixel camera. Pay that upfront cost and your calls, texts, and data are all free, whenever you can connect to Wi-Fi, wherever you are. You are not tied into any contract and you can keep your old phone number.
You can see how this could suit some people really well. If you’re primarily using your phone at work and home with good Wi-Fi coverage, then this could be a real money saver.
The service is invitation-only right now, but a wider release is presumably planned for the near future. You can request an invitation at Scratch Wireless, and we’ll let you know as soon as we can get some concrete information.