FreedomPop launches commercial services in the UK

FreedomPop UK has officially launched its "100 per cent free mobile service" in what is the mobile virtual network operator's first foray outside the U.S. market.

First announced in May this year, the MVNO is launching services on the Three UK network via mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Xmobility. The company also said it plans to expand its free service to seven other countries within the next 12 months and to more than 20 markets by 2017.

UK consumers will now be able to subscribe to a SIM-only plan that provides 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200 MB of data "completely free for life". For the first 10,000 users to sign up, FreedomPop is also offering a special plan with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 1 GB of data free for the first month of service.

This amounts to an entry-level service designed to get users off the ground. If users exceed the basic allowances, they have the option to purchase additional bolt-on packages that expand their call, text and data usage. Users can also "earn" unlimited free data by completing various third-party offers such as taking a survey or downloading a coupon, and share and receive free data with any friends and family that are also FreedomPop users.

Other value-added services include the ability to roll over any unused data each month, receive usage alerts to ensure users do not incur overage charges, and an additional virtual international phone number so people in other countries can call for free.

Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop CEO and co-founder, said FreedomPop is providing something completely new on the UK market.

"The UK has had many mobile providers and services enter the market, but none of them offer a completely new business model enabling free service, guaranteed for life. Similar to the U.S., FreedomPop will deliver unprecedented value to consumers with an easy-to-use, high-quality mobile service. We believe everyone should have access to mobile services, and we're going to make that a reality in the UK," said Stokols.

Speaking to FierceWireless:Europe in May, Kester Mann, principal analyst at CCS Insight, said FreedomPop is "bringing something different with its freemium model, which will be targeting the low end of the market, but also maybe users that want a second SIM, back up service. It will be interesting to see what happens."

Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape, noted that FreedomPop brings a disruptive influence to the UK market "to coincide nicely with an impending reduction in incumbent operator numbers".

Fraser added that price is not FreedomPop's only point of differentiation: "In its native U.S. market, FreedomPop is part of the 'Wi-Fi first' movement, a group of MVNOs that position Wi-Fi at the heart of their connectivity offerings…If FreedomPop's UK debut takes this kind of thinking into a market currently facing a risk of post-consolidation inertia and rising prices, it can only be a good thing for the consumer."

First launched in 2012, FreedomPop is backed by Mangrove Capital, DCM and Skype Founder Niklas Zennstom's Atomico.

For more:
- see this FreedomPop post

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