FreedomPop, the company planning to provide free mobile broadband, said yesterday that it will use the Clearwire network to support its offering. Originally FreedomPop planned to use the LightSquared network, but that no longer appears to be an option, now that the FCC has said it plans to vacate the conditional waiver order that had allowed LightSquared limited terrestrial operation using spectrum originally intended for satellite use.
The agreement gives FreedomPop access to Clearwire’s existing 4G WiMax network, covering more than 130 million people in the U.S. and to Clearwire’s 4G LTE network as that network is rolled out, the companies said.
“FreedomPop’s ultimate goal of providing our customers with a free mobile broadband alternative will soon be realized thanks to Clearwire’s proven 4G network services,” said Tony Miller, FreedomPop’s vice president of marketing, in yesterday’s announcement. “This agreement enables FreedomPop to offer a disruptive retail service, providing free, flexible high-speed Internet access to millions of Americans.”
FreedomPop has not released many details about its planned offering, which has garnered considerable attention — largely because its backers include Atomico, the venture capital firm of Skype and Kazaa co-founder Niklas Zennstrom. Miller told a Forbes reporter earlier this month that FreedomPop expects to earn revenue through incremental charges for the 10% to 15% of customers it expects to opt for premium mobile broadband services. Also at that time, Miller told Forbes that the company was looking for an alternative to LightSquared, whose plans already were in doubt at that time.
Clearwire may just find itself as the biggest beneficiary of the proverbial ill wind that has hit LightSquared in the form of the government’s decision to prevent the LightSquared terrestrial network from being built. Like LightSquared, and unlike companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Clearwire expects to emphasize a wholesale business model, which could make it the logical choice for a wide range of companies that had announced agreements to use the LightSquared 4G network, including Eatel, Aircado, ESCO Technologies, Simplexity MVNO Services, InterGlobe, Earthcomm Solutions, and a host of others.
“Enabling innovative 4G business models with our mobile broadband network is a key part of Clearwire’s wholesale business strategy,” said Don Stroberg, Clearwire’s senior vice president of wholesale, in yesterday’s announcement.