Cellphone startup offers free monthly use

Scratch sells the Photon Q phone.
Scratch sells the Photon Q phone. Credit:

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Even as giant cellphone carriers like T-Mobile US Inc. and AT&T Inc. unveil aggressive new pricing plans to steal each other’s customers, a tiny Cambridge startup called Scratch Wireless has begun offering callers a monthly price that can’t be beat--zero.

The catch is that customers will have to do much of their phone work — whether making calls, sending texts, or browsing the Internet — over free Wi-Fi Internet connections; if there is no Wi-Fi nearby — say, while driving along the highway — then callers would need to connect to a cellular network, and pay for it.

Scratch offers optional packages for users to connect to the Sprint Nextel Corp. cellular network that range from $1.99 for one-day use, to $14.99 for a monthly pass.

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