FreedomPop, Intel's Wi-Fi first smartphone takes on Google Fi

Google's Project Fi was more than the MVNO that people have been expecting, at least based on earlier rumors. Instead of a simple, directly mobile service that would compete with carriers, Project Fi made a tempting proposition: a service that automatically switched back and forth between paid cellular connection and free Wi-Fi depending on the latter's availability. That is the new paradigm that FreedomPop and Intel are chasing after in a partnership that will see not only a new service to compete with Project Fi but a new smartphone as well.

FreedomPop, who itself offers a wireless service that at first doesn't seem to make sense, announced that it received funding from Intel Capital, the chip maker's investment arm. The funding is to launch a yet unnamed service that will practically do what Google Fi does, to offer a service that seamlessly switches between Wi-Fi and cellular data depending on coverage. FreedomPop is, of course, in the position to drive such a program considering is existing network.

But that is only half the equation. The other half will also be driven by Intel. The two companies will be working on a "Wi-Fi first" smartphone designed specifically for this service. What's special, or at least unique, about the smartphone is that it is probably the first to run on Intel's shiny new SoFIA platform. Sofia is the codename for the chip Intel announced last year, now formally named as the Atom x3, to power a new breed of smartphones, ones that, of course, run on Intel instead of the usual Qualcomm or even MediaTek chips.

Details about this new collaboration are rather thin at the moment, though the two expect that the program will launch by 2016. Expected features include the aforementioned Wi-Fi to cellular switching, high quality VoIP, and throttling and boosting network speeds depending on the device. FreedomPop fans could probably expect dirt cheap prices too, considering the service's starting tier of just $5 a month.