The company is “excited about taking a shot at the big boys,” FreedomPop CEO Steve Stokols told Telecompetitor, referring to the nation’s largest wireless carriers.
The new service gives users 500 megabytes of data, 500 text messages and 200 “anytime” voice minutes free every month “for life,” the company said in an announcement of the new offering.
With that offering, and using what FreedomPop has learned from the free mobile hotspot service it launched a year ago, FreedomPop aims to “disrupt a $200 billion mobile voice and data business,” Stokols said.
Initially the FreedomPop offering will use Sprint’s 4G WiMax network, which covers about 60% of the U.S., according to Stokols, as well as that carrier’s 3G network, which has nationwide coverage. Customers wanting to use the service will purchase an HTC Evo Design smartphone with FreedomPop software preloaded on it for $99.
Stokols said FreedomPop deliberately chose a device that was “last year’s model” to help ensure a low-price but well performing device. Additional devices will be added in the next six to 12 months as the service begins to support LTE, he said. Some of those will be higher-end models that FreedomPop will sell for $149 to $199.
As with FreedomPop’s previously launched free mobile hotspot offering, FreedomPop aims to earn revenues through higher-tier services. Existing data customers already have the ability to increase their monthly data allotment for a low monthly fee and those rates will also apply for those who want to increase the allotment associated with the mobile offering, Stokols explained.
Customers wanting to boost monthly voice minutes and/or monthly text messages will pay separately to upgrade those allotments. Customers will have the option of paying $10.99 per month for unlimited voice and texting or a lower fee for a service that increases the voice cap to 500 minutes.
Both FreedomPop’s voice and text services are IP based and actually run over a data connection. But Stokols said the bytes associated with those services do not count against a customer’s monthly data allotment.
FreedomPop also will continue to support offers that let customers raise their data allotment by referring friends to the company or by taking surveys sponsored by promotional partners, Stokols said.
Noting that FreedomPop already hit 100,000 subscribers in one year with a niche offering, Stokols said he expects the new free mobile service to have an impact on overall pricing in the mobile market.