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FreedomPop 4G Coverage and Network Review

8th November 2018

FreedomPop is an innovative MVNO which runs on Three’s network and stands out by offering customers very cheap allowances. It used to also offer a completely free plan, but it doesn’t any more.

As it uses Three’s infrastructure in the UK it has the same level of 4G coverage, amounting to 99.8% of the population right now, and that figure is growing all the time.

There’s a lot more to FreedomPop though, and we’ve got all the information below, including a guide to what’s good about the network, what’s bad, and what sort of user it’s right for.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Very cheap basic tariff

Tethering costs extra

Lots of optional extras

Low data limits

 

No roaming

Our Verdict 

Coverage

As a Three MVNO, FreedomPop currently has 99.8% UK population coverage with 4G and 98.3% coverage with 3G. That's comparable to other networks and Three's network is improving quickly.

Freedom Pop Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99.8%

3G

98.3%

2G

N/A

Use FreedomPop’s coverage checker above to find out more about Freedom Pop coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Towns and cities with partial or full coverage include:

Aberdeen, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Gloucester, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend On Sea, Stoke on Trent, Swindon, Watford and York.

The full list is far too big to include here and is growing all the time, so if you don't have FreedomPop 4G coverage where you are now, you likely will do soon.

Coverage Comparison

Network

4G Coverage by population

EE

>99%

Vodafone

99%

O2

99%

FreedomPop (Three)

99.8%

As you can see in the chart above Three (and by extension FreedomPop) may well have the most 4G coverage, though all the networks have similar amounts.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

FreedomPop (Three)

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

O2

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

There aren’t many reports into FreedomPop’s speeds, but in an OpenSignal report from October 2018, Three was found to have 4G download speeds of 18.78Mbps on average, which is the second slowest. As FreedomPop shares Three’s infrastructure and spectrum it’s likely to offer similar speeds.

Three’s latency (the amount of time it takes for the network to respond to a request), had an average of 48.15ms, which is slower than any other tested network, so again, FreedomPop’s is likely to be similar, and that’s not so good.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

FreedomPop (Three)

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2

14.11/7.13Mbps

In a slightly older Speedtest report from late 2017, Three was found to have average download speeds (across both 4G and 3G) of 14.58Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.35Mbps. This is a lot slower than the scores above, but can be explained by the fact that it tested both 4G and 3G speeds. FreedomPop’s results are again likely to be similar.

Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G

FreedomPop uses the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band can travel over long distances, making it a good fit for rural locations, where there may not be many masts. But it can also do a good job of passing through walls and other objects, making it good for bringing 4G inside too.

1800MHz isn’t quite as long range or as adept at passing through walls, but it’s available in higher capacities, and this allows it to cope better with congested areas, such as city centres.

You can find in depth details of those bands in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

FreedomPop hasn’t announced any planned improvements, though when it comes to coverage and speeds it’s reliant on Three anyway.

Three for its part has committed to a £2 billion+ network investment in preparation for 5G, so expect big improvements.

Traffic management

FreedomPop reserves the right to “engage in reasonable network management to protect the overall network, including analysing traffic patterns and preventing the distribution of viruses or other malicious code.”

It additionally states that during periods of congestion it will use various network management techniques “such as reducing the data rate of individual bandwidth intensive users whose use is negatively impacting other users.” These limits are temporary, but for ongoing or recurring excessive use “FreedomPop reserves the right to immediately restrict, suspend or terminate your access.”

Plans

FreedomPop offers a range of SIM Only plans, with the cheapest costing just £3.49 per month. There are other plans and extras though, which are detailed below.

Pay Monthly Phone Plans

FreedomPop does not currently offer any Pay Monthly plans.

SIM Only Plans

SIM Only Plans

 

Essential 1GB

Premium 2GB Premium 4GB

Minutes

200

Unlimited

Unlimited

Texts

200

Unlimited

Unlimited

Data allowance

1GB

2GB

4GB

Premium Voice

Price

£3.49

£11.99

£19.99

4G

Roaming

Contract length

1 month

1 month

1 month

Data Rollover

* Additional cost

* Additional cost

* Additional cost

Spending Caps

* Additional cost

* Additional cost

* Additional cost

Tethering

* Additional cost

* Additional cost

​* Additional cost

View Deals

FreedomPop has a handful of different SIM Only plans, highlighted in the table above, all of which come with an allowance of minutes, texts and data.

Additional services cost extra, with FreedomPop Premier for example allowing you to tether, get visual voicemail, usage alerts and roll over unused data, among other things, for £3.99 per month.

Alternatively, data rollover can be added for £1.49.

As well as the above plans, the WhatsApp SIM is also worth highlighting. This is free too and lets you use your data for roaming at no extra cost, as well as giving you 1GB of data to use with WhatsApp, but it’s capped at 3G speeds. However, this is no longer available - if you already have it you can keep using it, but for all new customers roaming isn't possible.

FreedomPop also has a range of offers (most of which involve filling in surveys) which reward you with free data, so you can potentially get a lot more than your allowance offers.

Ultimately, these plans make FreedomPop best for people who want to spend as little as possible, or who want a cheap secondary SIM card.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

FreedomPop does not currently offer any Data Only plans.

Pay As You Go

FreedomPop does not currently offer any Pay As You Go plans.

Tethering

FreedomPop allows tethering but only if you subscribe to FreedomPop Premier, which costs £3.99 per month on top of any other costs.

WiFi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling refers to making calls, receiving calls and sending texts over Wi-Fi, rather than over a mobile network. It’s can be handy as indoor locations (where Wi-Fi is often available) can also often have signal blackspots, so Wi-Fi Calling ensures you can still stay in touch. FreedomPop offers this service and it works through the same apps as the standard FreedomPop service.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE and is also sometimes called 4G Calling. As you might have guessed from that name it means calling over 4G, rather than 3G or 2G. This isn’t a standard feature of mobile networks, but it means you can call in more places, as you’ll be able to use your phone when there’s a 4G signal but no 2G or 3G. However, VoLTE isn’t currently offered by FreedomPop.

Roaming Destinations

FreedomPop’s standard SIM cards don’t include free roaming on any plan, in fact, you can't roam at all, which is presumably how it gets around the EU's Roam Like At Home initiative, designed to prevent networks charging extra to roam in Europe, though it claims to be planning to offer roaming in the future. 

However, the network used to offer ‘WhatsApp SIM cards’. These limit you to 3G data whether at home or abroad – so they’re less useful if you plan to mostly use your phone in the UK. But they include free data roaming in the following destinations:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Those are fewer locations than most networks now allow you to roam for free in, but they include destinations beyond Europe, which most rival networks don't. If you already have a WhatsApp SIM you can keep using it to roam, but FreedomPop no longer offers this service to new customers.

Customer service

Customer service can be hard to judge, especially in FreedomPop’s case, as none of the recent studies and surveys have looked at this network.

The best we can do is look at its Trustpilot rating, which at the time of writing stands at 5.4 out of 10, which is classed as an average score, so customer service might not be great, but it probably won’t be terrible either.

Conclusion

FreedomPop is a solid network for one simple reason: it has plans that start at very low prices.

That makes it great if you’re a light user or want a second number that won’t cost you much. Paid bolt-ons such as tethering and data rollover also give it a number of additional strengths.

However, these can also make the price add up, and if you also need higher allowances than the basic tier offers you might find you’re better off on a conventional network. The lack of roaming for new customers also really hurts it and the fact that it no longer offers free plans is a big point against it.

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