FreedomPop inks CDMA, LTE deal with Sprint, raises $7.5M in funding
MVNO FreedomPop will resell service on Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) CDMA and forthcoming LTE networks by year-end, according to comments a FreedomPop executive made to GigaOM. FreedomPop currently has a deal with Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) to resell the carrier's mobile WiMAX network starting sometime this summer or fall, and FreedomPop plans to add Sprint's services into the mix via WiMAX/LTE/CDMA modems and iPhone sleeves.
FreedomPop's Vice President of Marketing Tony Miller told GigaOM that FreedomPop plans to phase out WiMAX products in 2013 as Sprint's LTE network nears completion. He said the company might begin selling Clearwire's own TD-LTE services when that network launches next year as scheduled.
Sprint is the third carrier to support FreedomPop's planned MVNO service. FreedomPop launched in late 2011 with plans to offer service over LightSquared's planned LTE network. FreedomPop subsequently moved to Clearwire after the FCC squashed LightSquared's planned buildout due to concerns its LTE network would interfere with GPS signals.
FreedomPop isn't the only MVNO that plans to resell Sprint's CDMA and LTE services. Ting, which currently offers service over Sprint's CDMA network, plans to add LTE to the mix as soon as Sprint launches its LTE network. Sprint will begin deploying LTE service in five markets starting July 15.
FreedomPop's deal with Sprint essentially will expand the MVNO's offerings nationwide. Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network covers 72 markets and around 130 million POPs.
FreedomPop, backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, aims to provide mobile broadband on a "freemium" model by giving out a some data for free and charging users for more. The company will offer 500 MB of free data per month (with overage charges of 1 cent per MB, or $10 per GB, beyond that), and will encourage users to upgrade their services with premium features like VoIP calling and social networking services.
Interestingly, FreedomPop isn't the first company to tread the "freemium" waters. NetZero earlier this year launched mobile WiMAX services via Clearwire with 200 MB of free data.
FreedomPop plans to launch service with a WiMAX modem and an innovative "sleeve" for the iPhone 4 and 4S that will allow users to access its services through a Wi-Fi connection. The iPhone sleeve will cost $99.
In other FreedomPop news, the company raised $7.5 million in its first round of venture capital financing, according to a report from VentureBeat. ManGrove and DCM led the round.
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