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New wireless startup offers free mobile service - wait, what?

At the beginning of this month, FreedomPop introduced a new free phone service. Now Scratch Wireless has surfaced with a similar claim - though there is a pretty big catch. Keep reading to learn more!
October 16, 2013

At the beginning of the month, FreedomPop officially launched a new free phone service to select markets. Now here comes another ‘free’ service, this one going by the name Scratch Wireless.

Scratch Wireless comes off as a bit of a mix between FreedomPop and Republic Wireless. It’s like the former because it has a free option, and it’s similar to the later because it centers around the idea of connecting to WiFi for service.

Scratch Wireless works like this: You buy the $269 Motorola Photon Q and you get assigned a number that you can use for calling and texting. To make a call or use data, you need to be on your Wi-Fi connection. Texting, on the other hand, is absolutely free and unlimited – even on a cellular connection.

What if you need to make a phone call or use some data while away from WiFi? That’s where Scratch Wireless “passes” come into play, which utilize the Sprint network. If you only need a day pass, you’ll pay $1.99 for either 25MB data or 30 minutes of voice calling ($3.98 for both). There’s also a 30 day option, which costs you $14.99 for either 200MB data or 250 minutes of calling.

Let’s be honest here, these rates are pretty crummy. That said, if you happen to be a texting addict that rarely makes calls or uses data when away from a Wi-Fi hotspot, it could prove to be a good option. It could also be useful for those who want a secondary phone to keep around the house as a makeshift ‘land-line’.

Of course $269 is a lot to pay for a phone that will be essentially limited to working on only WiFi most of the time. With that in mind, you’re probably better off with FreedomPop if you’re looking for free service, or a prepaid carrier like Straighttalk or Ting if you don’t mind having a monthly bill in return for reasonably good service and the ability to bring your own device.

If for whatever reason you think that Scratch’s service could be a good fit for you, you’ll want to sign up now for a chance to get an “invite” to their service.

What do you think, can you see any scenarios where Scratch Wireless would make sense, or are most users probably better off with a different carrier?