FreedomPop, the company that offers free cellular data, voice and text service, today launched a service that lets smartphones use any of nearly 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide for data, voice, or text connectivity, thereby minimizing customers’ cellular service consumption.
“We’re cobbling together millions of hotspots to create a ‘good enough’ mobile network” that will disrupt the traditional mobile industry, said FreedomPop CEO Steve Stokols in an interview.
FreedomPop’s service will sell for five dollars a month and will include unlimited Wi-Fi data, voice, and text service. The service is underpinned by public hotspots aggregated by companies that specialize in that business and through direct agreements with communications service providers that have their own Wi-Fi networks. FreedomPop is focusing on the top 120 metro markets nationwide and hopes to have access to 30 million hotspots within 90 days, Stokols said.
What About Wholesale?
To use the FreedomPop Wi-Fi service, customers will download an app that supports several key functions. One function is a native dialer that lets end users place VoIP calls using a traditional keypad interface. Additionally, the software automates detection of and log in to Wi-Fi hotspots, eliminating the need for manual log in.
Although the Hotspot 2.0 standard also automates Wi-Fi log in, Stokols said FreedomPop is not using Hotspot 2.0 but instead developed its own software that works with current Wi-Fi infrastructure.
For now, at least, FreedomPop’s offering is available only on a retail basis. But there would seem to be a wholesale market for such an offering for small wireless carriers as a means of minimizing the cost of providing out-of-region connectivity.
Marketing FreedomPop Wi-Fi
FreedomPop expects to market the new Wi-Fi offering through online channels. Stokols sees considerable pent up demand for the product from end users who have inquired about the company’s cellular offering but have not been able to switch to it because they have GSM phones and FreedomPop uses Sprint’s CDMA network.
Stokols also noted that the service would be “quite synergistic” with FreedomPop’s free cellular offering, which caps monthly data usage. For five dollars more a month, those customers may be able to avoid paying extra for larger data plans, Stokols said.