We promised Karma LTE this summer. It's summer now, but Karma LTE isn't ready. We're not happy about that. You might have a few questions, so I want to share what we're doing to make Karma LTE amazing, and why we're not there yet. But first I'd like to announce the name of our LTE product. Meet Karma Go.
What's taking you so long?
Hardware. Everyone at Karma is obsessed with doing things well, and doing them right. Most mobile hotspots look like old MP3 players, from back before the iPod launched. Screens, buttons, stickers... they're ugly. A mobile hotspot doesn't need a touchscreen — or a projector — we live in a software world. That's why when your battery runs low, we send a push notification. When you need more data, you simply launch our app. Your hotspot isn't for displaying text messages or running apps, it's for getting your other devices connected.
Most mobile hotspots look like old MP3 players
When you add LTE, most hotspots get even more complicated. For better performance, LTE requires a new chipset and a new (bigger) battery. As we looked for a manufacturer for Karma Go, every device we found was larger, more complicated, and uglier than our original device. When I was talking to investors, friends, or random strangers, I was too embarrassed by those original Karma Go "MP3 player" prototypes to take them out of my backpack.
So we switched manufacturers, twice. That takes time. But today, on my desk in front of me, sits the new Karma Go. It's tiny, there's only one button. It's perfect. In fact, it looks a lot like the original Karma, and I think that's a high compliment.
It's tiny, there's only one button. It's perfect.
Of course, our job doesn't stop with finding the hardware. Karma is about a frictionless experience for users; from the moment they open the box, to every time they connect, and every time they share WiFi. And we're building for the future, too: adding a new network to our service is a lot of work. Adding more networks, including the international coverage we're all pining for, will be easier with this groundwork in place.
Yes, but I just want LTE!
Our mission is to provide the world with WiFi. You shouldn't have to think about what carrier you're connected through; that's our job. For LTE we've partnered with Sprint, but when we began testing the Sprint LTE network, it wasn't where we wanted it to be. Sprint's LTE is faster than our current WiMAX solution, and covers more of the country, but we needed to make sure that our existing customers wouldn't experience a step backwards in places where WiMAX already works great.
Sprint's network is rapidly improving
Sprint's new owner, SoftBank CEO Masa Son, has even stated publicly that there's a "big gap" between the Sprint network and its two biggest competitors. The good news is that Masa Son plans to close this gap, and the even better news is that Sprint's network is rapidly improving. We've been testing the LTE network everywhere we travel: on the CalTrain, in Long Island, Austin, Boston, and our Las Vegas car rental. We finally feel like the LTE network exceeds our WiMAX performance. To make things even better, Karma Go will offer both 4G LTE and a 3G fallback.
I believe in Masa Son's vision. Not just for the Sprint network, but for connectivity in general. Americans pay too much for internet that's too slow. We've partnered with Sprint because we want to help fix that.
Should I buy a Karma now, or wait?
Go for it! Really. Here's why: we're married to the concept of non-expiring data. We'll never ever take away something you've already paid for, or charge you bogus fees... or any monthly fees, for that matter. We want to offer you a unified flat rate across multiple networks, technologies, and countries. Data purchased today will continue to work on the original Karma, on Karma Go, and on any future Karma we launch.
What's next? (Seriously, when can I get LTE?)
We want to make sure Karma Go is ready for the holidays. Behind the scenes we're getting ready for pre-orders, which we plan to launch mid-September. As promised, everyone that already owns a Karma will get big discounts. If you're interested in ongoing updates, or you want to help us test drive Go, shoot us an email: email@example.com.
Our job is to take on the complexity of dealing with a carrier and ISP. Our mission is to provide the world with WiFi. We will never ever ever settle. It will only get better.