Wi-Fi-driven mobile carrier Scratch Wireless launches its ‘free’ service in beta

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Gigaom

After months of conducting trials behind the scenes, virtual operator Scratch Wireless is opening up its cellular-as-a-last-resort service to the public in beta. You can register to receive an invitation on Scratch’s website.

Scratch bills itself as a provider of “free” mobile and SMS service, and that’s true if you keep all of your calls to Wi-Fi networks. Scratch founder and CEO Alan Berrey is promoting the idea that Wi-Fi is now so ubiquitous and available that only in rare circumstances would you need to use the cellular network to make a call or access mobile internet. Scratch has built its business model around that premise.

Scratch Wireless Wi-Fi graphic

On the instances where you need access and Wi-Fi is unavailable, Scratch will sell you a small bucket of minutes or data on Sprint’s(s s) network. Prices start at $2 for either a one-day 30-voice minute or 25MB plan, while monthly plans run…

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