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Karma Offers Wireless at $14 a Gigabyte, Straight
Latest MVNO Attempt to Disrupt Pricing
by Karl Bode 09:09AM Friday Jun 15 2012
There's no shortage of new wireless MVNOs emerging this year promising to do something a little different on the pricing front. Republic Wireless plans to lower prices by offloading most of the daily traffic to Wi-Fi. FreedomPop promises to offer users a basic free tier of service with low priced data and voice options layered on top. Tucows' Ting plans to focus on customer service, using auto plan downgrades to save users money.

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Now this week a Clearwire MVNO by the name of Karma is unveiling their attempt at price disruption: a $70 hotspot where each gigabyte just costs $14. $14 per gigabyte sounds pricey until you realize that's all you'll pay each month, whereas most incumbent carriers charge a flat fee and then tack usage on top of that.

There's one interesting twist to this equation, and that's the fact you can gain free data in 100 MB chunks by sharing your connection:
quote:
The twist is that Karma makes your hotspot into an open Wi-Fi network. When a new user joins, they are taken to a personalized page about the owner of the hotspot. Strangers can then sign in with their Facebook account and get 100MB of free browsing. For every user who does that, the owner of Karma gets 100MB of free data credited to his account. The company calls this "social telecom."
The problem is that MVNOs don't exactly have a strong track record of success in fighting entrenched duopoly carriers with significantly better wireless footprints. Still, it's refreshing to see somebody trying to do things with pricing the incumbents refuse to do (like actually offering cost savings).

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SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA

4 edits

I see some bad karma here

Open Wi-Fi network using facebook for auth?

Anyone else using a private VPN proxy when they connect to a open wi-fi?

Or am I just paranoid?

Could you be held liable for the activity of your users?

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

Re: I see some bad karma here

said by SysOp:

Open Wi-Fi network using facebook for auth?

Anyone else using a private VPN proxy when they connect to a open wi-fi?

Or am I just paranoid?

Beggars can't be choosers I guess. If you don't like it, pay for your own connection.

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA

Re: I see some bad karma here

I do pay for a private VPN. But me thinks some beggars out there don't have any clue about data security.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
Doesn't FB auth use HTTPS?

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA

Re: I see some bad karma here

Check out Https Everywhere

»www.eff.org/https-everywhere

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·Comcast

I signed up for the beta

I'm disabled and home 90% of the time.
I signed up for the beta as a result of this story and a visit to their web site..

My Linksys EV4200v2 Dual-Band Wireless Router gives me great coverage throughout the house & well out into the yard. I plan to cancel my current cell plan ... as well as my Vonage account.

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA
Reviews:
·MetroPCS

Re: I signed up for the beta

Can you keep your usage below 4gb a month? I know if I was home 90% of the time I couldn't.

I doubt you are going to get that many new users a month to offset the cost difference.

If you have good coverage, consider a Clear monthly plan if you use more than 4gb.


newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·Comcast

Re: I signed up for the beta

said by SysOp:

Can you keep your usage below 4gb a month? I know if I was home 90% of the time I couldn't.

Oh yeah ... I rarely use the phone anyway, mostly email, but need one "just in case". That's exactly why I have a "pay-as-you-go" plan for when I'm out about town, and Vonage for at home. Just a side note .. My monthly Comcast usage rarely exceeds 20gb a month of their 250gb cap. This offering from Republic Wireless will more-or-less combine the two plans into one and use the internet connection that I already pay for 90% of the time.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

and do you have to pay for that new users data???

and do you have to pay for that new users data???

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA
Reviews:
·MetroPCS

4 edits

Re: and do you have to pay for that new users data???

It's a walled garden.

Hotspot users are given 100MB free access, then after the free trial I assume users are asked to pay.

This business model would actually work very well over LTE. Not so sure with WiMax.

Can hotspot users just switch facebook accounts and get another 100MB?

Duramax08
To The Moon
Premium
join:2008-08-03
San Antonio, TX

Re: and do you have to pay for that new users data???

"Can hotspot users just switch facebook accounts and get another 100MB?"

Doubt it, it probably keeps tab of your mac address.

FifthE1ement
Tech Nut

join:2005-03-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Re: and do you have to pay for that new users data???

said by Duramax08:

"Can hotspot users just switch facebook accounts and get another 100MB?"

Doubt it, it probably keeps tab of your mac address.

Lol, the mac address is easier to change then a Facebook account, lol. I wonder how they do authorization though?
--
"The relationship between what we see and what we know is never settled..."

jjoshua
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Scotch Plains, NJ
kudos:3

Another beta?

I'm still waiting to hear back from Republic.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Another beta?

Republic is getting ready to launch wave B. It is suppose to come out sometime by the end of July. If you're not on Wave B yo could be waiting a while.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Not disruptive

It's not disruptive when it only works in the cities, which are awash with connectivity anyways. And Verizon and AT&T aren't going to allow anything disruptive on their networks, so until Sprint builds out, we won't be seeing anything truly disruptive.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Not disruptive

wouldn't expect this on the Sprint network. They're already moving their prepaid brands over to Clear for data instead of the LTE network. MVNOs and their own brands are going to start being treated as 2nd rate customers.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Not disruptive

Sprint is big into the MVNOs, and that's not going to change. They are just getting cheaper rates from CLEAR, since they have even worse coverage, and are even more desperate than Sprint.
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Online DSL
·Comcast

Ah, Clearwire

If I remember correctly, Clear WiMAX covers about 135 million people in the U.S., nominally. Assuming that, at any given time, all 135 million are outside...because in-building service just doesn't do well.

I wouldn't bash the network as much as I do, except that I own a phone that does WiMAX and I can never seem to get online reliably, with decent speeds, in areas that are supposed to have service.

Note that I'm ragging on Clearwire here; Sprint's slowish 3G network, which also hosts scads of MVNOs (which can also access WiMAX), is at least available nearly everywhere I go. But not Clear.

And they'll never be available wherever I go, because even after they switch to LTE (rendering WiMAX devices obsolete...they won't be building any more WiMAX sites in the future...not enough money) they will still only cover urban areas. Actually, subsets of urban areas. Basically, Sprint will want to use Clear to add TD-LTE 2600 cell sites in areas where Sprint's own LTE network, due to lack of spectrum, won't be able to keep up with demand. Where Clear does add these cell sites, speeds will be phenomenal (better than ANY other wireless carrier, including foreign LTE beasts like TeliaSonera), however the range on these sites will be low due to the frequency used, maybe even covering something as small as a stadium or conference center.

Where does that leave folks wanting to use Clear as their primary provider? Well, Clear will probably upgrade all of its WiMAX towers to the new LTE tech, in addition to any "hot zones" it creates. However due to their cash-strapped profile, I wouldn't expect any new service, which means that the system continues to be of little use to me (compared to T-Mobile and Verizon's respective "4G" networks, which each cover around 2x the number of "pops" as Clear...and they do it reliably!).

mmay149q
Premium
join:2009-03-05
Dallas, TX
kudos:48

2 edits

Would this really save $$$?

I mean look at it this way, yeah you don't have to pay a monthly "access fee" however you're paying $4 per gigabyte over what any other carrier charges... and really you're paying $70 per 5GB which to me isn't really cost savings when you look at plans from other carriers... Infact compare this to VZW's 10GB plans ($80 for single users, $100 for shared data plans) and this company is losing as they are charging $140 per 10GB... In my opinion this isn't saving money at all...

Now If you're always in a public area sharing with 4 other people, or just taking it to public places and turning it on and letting 5 people connect (and could modify the connection URL to pay $10 for use) this is where you can get real savings, 5 people? half a gig free, 10 people? almost 1GB free, 100 people? Almost 10GB free, of course I'd hate to get that $140 bill...

EDIT: One thing I'd like to know, let's say you sit somewhere for an hour, and 100 people connect and use your device so you get 10GB's free (this is just an example I know it's not a reality) does that mean that those same 100 users once they use their free 100MB can eat away at your free 10GB?! I'd have to know more about that, because if not, you could technically cheat the system if you had a way to factory restore due to login info being saved on the device, and then just keep connecting your phone or something with fake Facebook accounts, only use like 20MB and then keep doing that over and over again, it's going to be interesting to see what kind of tracking they have for devices and etc to ensure users aren't gaming the system to virtually get free service 24/7...

Matt
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