FreedomPop today announced plans to expand its free wireless data offering to include free voice beginning in late summer.
In an interview, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said the company initially launched free wireless data in order to “nail the business model.” As Stokols explained, that model offers sufficient free monthly data usage to satisfy a large percentage of customers – 500 megabytes.
The new voice offering, which will also include 200 free voice minutes per month and unlimited texting, is based on the same principle, he said.
Customers who want more voice minutes or a larger data allotment will be able to purchase a premium service. Pricing has not yet been determined, but Stokols said the plan is for it to be in the range of $10 to $15 per month for a service that would cost around $80 from a traditional wireless carrier.
FreedomPop plans to offer “popular handsets” from companies such as HTC and Samsung to support the new voice and data service, Stokols said. He pointed to HTC’s EVO smartphone as an example of the kind of device FreedomPop plans to offer.
FreedomPop does not operate its own wireless network but instead leases connectivity from Sprint and Clearwire.
Until now FreedomPop’s premium plans have focused on enhanced capabilities such as 24/7 customer service and device replacement. Users also have had the ability to increase their wireless data allotment by referring friends to the service and by participating in promotional activities, such as completing sponsored surveys. Stokols said those options will continue as the offering is expanded to include free voice and texting.
According to today’s release, the FreedomPop voice service will be based on VoIP. A company spokesman said the underlying supplier has not yet been named.
FreedomPop previously announced plans to offer free voice service through a partnership with textPlus, which specializes in using VoIP over a mobile data connection. According to the FreedomPop spokesman, that offer has not yet hit the market but should be available soon and will be based on Apple’s iOS. The voice offering announced today will be Android-based.
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