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FreedomPop Review and Network Coverage

19th September 2019

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 anymore.

As such it’s no longer quite as good as it once was, but it still has a reasonable amount going for it, as this review will show.

You’ll find full details of the good and bad of the network below, along with a look at its coverage, so you can make an informed decision as to whether it’s the right network for you.

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 98.7% 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

98.7%

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 second most 4G coverage (with EE probably having more), though all the networks have similar amounts.

5G coverage

FreedomPop doesn’t offer 5G yet and hasn’t said if or when it will. It’s worth noting that the network will be reliant on Three for coverage though, meaning it can only roll 5G out to places where Three already has it. Right now, that means only London – a place where Three currently only offers 5G home broadband, and only in some parts of the city.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, April 2019

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

32.5/10.4Mbps

37.9ms

FreedomPop (Three)

21.6/8.3Mbps

48.7ms

Vodafone

24.3/8.5Mbps

41.2ms

O2

15.8/7.2Mbps

39.2ms

There aren’t many reports into FreedomPop’s speeds, but in an OpenSignal report from April 2019, Three was found to have 4G download speeds of 21.6Mbps on average, which is the second slowest. Its average 4G upload speeds of 8.3Mbps are also 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 48.7ms, which is slower than any other tested network, so again, FreedomPop’s is likely to be similar, and that’s not so good.

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.

FreedomPop may one day also get access to Three’s 3.4GHz and 3.6-4GHz spectrum, but this will probably only happen if or when it starts offering 5G.

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 is mostly focused on 5G right now, but that involves improving its network in ways that might also benefit FreedomPop.

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 small 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 on its own 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 and the US.

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 2.6 out of 5, which is classed as a poor score, so customer service might not be great, but it probably won’t be terrible either. And it’s worth noting that very few people have rated the service at the time of writing.

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.

Overall FreedomPop is an average network and tough to recommend as a primary network for all but the lightest users, but if that’s you, or you want a cheap plan for a second number, then it’s well worth a look.

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