Sprint (NYSE: S) 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.
"We'll crack 1 million in the next few months," FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols told FierceWireless, clarifying that it would be in the second or third quarter.
To get there, FreedomPop is expanding its repertoire of services, including a new offering it is launching today: access to an aggregated Wi-Fi hotspot network for $5 per month. The hotspot network includes 10 million hotspots, and Stokols said that number will grow to 25 million in the next 90 days or so.
The company's new Wi-Fi offering includes services from several Wi-Fi hotspot aggregators, Stokols said. He said Devicescape's curated hotspot network is not yet a part of the mix. He said that FreedomPop hoped to add Devicescape's network in "version 2" of the Wi-Fi service. Devicescape's network includes 20 million Wi-Fi locations worldwide.
Once on the new Wi-Fi plan, FreedomPop users can access participating Wi-Fi networks via the free FreedomPop app accessible in Google Play. The app provides automatic and seamless access to the hotspots on the network, many of which are closed to public access, according to the company.
FreedomPop has built its business model around giving smartphone customers 500 MB of LTE data, 200 voice minutes and 500 texts per month for free. Beyond that, customers can pay $10 per GB of data or $20 per month for unlimited voice, texting and data.
Stokols said that because of FreedomPop's contracts, he can't disclose the Wi-Fi aggregator partners the company is working with, but he said there are "several big ones." Stokols said customers should expect that any major store or amenity that has Wi-Fi will be a part of the network, including Best Buy, Burger King, Panera Bread and others.
The Wi-Fi service can be used by FreedomPop customers or any other Android phone user who downloads the FreedomPop app. Stokols said making the service available to all Android users helps FreedomPop "go after customers on other prepaid brands or other carriers."
In other FreedomPop news, Stokols said the company is still discussing strategic options with multiple companies, but that discussions are dragging on. The company had originally hoped to decide whether it would sell itself by the end of 2014.
"There are multiple parties," he said. "It's actually increased, which is part of the reason nothing has happened." Stokols said that a "strategic" investment is one option for the company, but said he couldn't comment further.
Stokols also said that FreedomPop has delayed plans to sell its devices and services in Staples and another unnamed big-box retailer. He said the move would require a large retail stock commitment of around $2 million to $3 million. The company is still planning to expand its distribution, but likely won't do so until early in the second quarter, Stokols said.
FreedomPop also plans to launch its international expansion in a "major" European market early in the second quarter, though Stokols declined to name the market. The company has four new European carrier partners in five countries, including KPN and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile (FreedomPop already announced plans to launch with KPN in Belgium). The company has announced plans to expand to Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and two additional countries to be announced later. Stokols said that although KPN in Belgium was the first international partner FreedomPop signed with, the company now plans to launch in a larger market than Belgium.
- see this release
FreedomPop takes aim at carriers, Skype with international calling plans
FreedomPop launches its own branded $89 Android phablet, targets low-cost device market
FreedomPop confirms M&A talks with second telecom company
'Major carrier' said to be considering acquiring MVNO FreedomPop
FreedomPop brings free calling, texting and data to tablets, will sell the iPad mini, Samsung Tab 3
FreedomPop expands to Belgium with KPN, plans to enter other European markets