FreedomPop has announced pre-orders for a new $99 iPod touch case that will lend cellular data capabilities to Apple’s touchscreen media player.
The company is calling the new case the “Freedom Sleeve.”
The Freedom Sleeve is similar to the ZTE Peel, which Sprint sold for use with the iPod touch before it landed the iPhone.
The new iPod case essentially transforms the iPod into an iPhone. Users can stream video and music, use Skype, chat on Facetime or turn their iPod touch into a hotspot for up to 8 devices.
FreedomPop is an MVNO using Clearwire’s WiMAX service and operating on a “freemium” business model. The company recently announced that it will also latch onto Sprint’s LTE network, eventually phasing out its use of Clearwire’s WiMAX network.
FreedomPop users get 500MB of broadband free every month and can also purchase additional data at $10 per gigabyte. The company is positioning itself as an alternative to the family plans recently announced by Verizon Wireless and AT&T by letting all friends share capacity or request capacity from each other.
FreedomPop announced more details today than it has in the past about the “social” aspect of its plans. Users can earn an additional 10 free megabytes for each friend they bring on board.
Additional friend functionality such as location, online presence and even free voice calls will be added over time, FreedomPop said. It did not reveal whether the case would be WiMAX- or LTE-capable.
“The more friends you have, the more free capacity you get, so users can have a carrier-free option that allows you to enjoy an iPhone experience without the hassle of contracts or fees,” Mauricio Sastre, FreedomPop’s vice president of product, said in a statement. “For the first time, FreedomPop’s making Internet access a social experience.”
FreedomPop COO Steven Sesar said in a statement that the company received “thousands of emails” asking for a device for the iPod.
“We listened and have worked tirelessly to make this device a reality in time for our launch,” Sesar said. “This new device is a big step toward FreedomPop’s aim of disrupting the mobile broadband market and providing all Americans with access to free, fast, reliable wireless Internet.”
The company previously announced a similar case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which allows users of those devices to connect to FreedomPop’s network instead of their current carrier network.
FreedomPop was founded in 2011 and was backed by Mangrove Capital, DCM, and Skype Founder Niklas Zennstom’s Atomico. The company plans to launch its free broadband service on Clearwire’s WiMAX network later this year and is scheduled to go live with Sprint’s LTE network in early 2013.