After months of speculation, Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is not going to be bought by anyone after all. Instead, the company declined multiple takeover offers and raised $30 million in new funding, and will continue expanding domestically and internationally. FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols also said that in 2016 the company will add another U.S. carrier partner.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is embarking on its long-awaited international expansion by partnering with the operator Three in the UK. FreedomPop is also still evaluating a possible acquisition.
FreedomPop is launching its free mobile services in Europe this year in what is the mobile virtual network operator's first foray outside the U.S. market.
Sprint in February changed its rules for devices that customers want to take to other carriers and MVNOs, which is having a negative impact on some Sprint MVNOs that offer Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, including Tucows' Ting Mobile service. However, Sprint and the MVNOs say they are working together to resolve any issues.
Google's Project Fi MVNO, which uses Wi-Fi hotspots for calling and data in addition to cellular connections from Sprint and T-Mobile US, is not a competitive threat to MVNOs Republic Wireless, Scratch Wireless and FreedomPop that rely on similar models. Instead, these companies say that the the search giant's entrance into the wireless market is a validation of the Wi-Fi-first concept.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop expects to know whether it will enter into a strategic deal with another company in the next four to six weeks, according to CEO Stephen Stokols. The company is also pushing ahead with its normal business, unveiling a new software feature that will make the handoff between VoIP and cellular calls more seamless.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop will cross 1 million total customers sometime in the second or third quarter of 2015, earlier than expected. Previously, the company had said it would hit the milestone by the end of 2015.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is launching free international calling as part of its service, even to customers who do not have FreedomPop as their primary carrier. The company's salvo is aimed not just at traditional wireless carriers but also VoIP providers like Skype and Vonage that have made international calling their hallmarks. FreedomPop also announced new plans for its expansion into Europe.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is launching its own branded tablets and soon a smartphone for under $100, hoping that the low-cost devices will help drive subscriber growth. The company is still going to support devices from branded OEMs like Samsung Electronics, but is working with contract manufacturers on its own devices, which could help build up its brand.
LAS VEGAS--Sprint MVNO FreedomPop has been in formal M&A discussions with a publicly traded telecommunications company that is not a Tier 1 U.S. carrier, according to FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols. That offer is in addition to ongoing discussions on a deal with a major U.S. carrier, he confirmed.