Sprint (NYSE:S) MVNO FreedomPop now has more than 100,000 subscribers and is adding support for Sprint's LTE network, the latest evolution in data services for the freemium mobile broadband provider.
The MVNO has not previously disclosed how many subscribers it has since launching last year, but according to GigaOM, that figure is now more than 100,000. Coinciding with the milestone, the company announced a new mobile hotspot, the FreedomSpot 5580, for $150 (Sprint sells the device for $250). Previously, FreedomPop's service had only worked on Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network, but FreedomPop has long hinted it would move to Sprint's LTE network (Sprint acquired Clearwire in July, and plans to expand its LTE network to cover 200 million POPs by year-end).
FreedomPop has said that its business model, which relies on providing a free tier of service in the hopes that users will purchase additional service and other add-ons, has resulted gross margins of over 50 percent. The new device comes with the same offer as FreedomPop's previous devices: 500 MB of LTE data for free per month. FreedomPop lets users share and receive additional bandwidth each month from friends, as well as earn data by participating in marketing offers. According to GigaOM, the company said more than 55 percent of its subscribers are signed up for a free plan.
Also on the horizon is a voice and texting service, which FreedomPop has yet to launch. "The Freedom Phone will launch very soon--right around the Labor Day timeframe," a company representative told The Verge. According to AllThingsD, the phone service will be coming in six to eight weeks.
FreedomPop plans to offer unlimited texting and 200 VoIP-based voice calling minutes for free to select Android phone users. Importantly, FreedomPop has said the data generated from the voice calls and texts won't count against the free 500 MB of data per month the company already provides users.
Additionally, FreedomPop has said its customers will also be able to place unlimited calls to each other under the new offering. The company will sell an unlimited calling option for $9.99 per month, and will offer a less expensive tier of voice calling minutes for an as-yet-to-be-determined price. FreedomPop's service is likely powered by textPlus--FreedomPop inked an agreement with textPlus for voice and messaging services in January--but FreedomPop has declined to confirm whether textPlus is the vendor for its texting and voice service.
FreedomPop also plans to start selling phones. The company told Forbes in June it will begin selling refurbished HTC Evo 4G Android phones within the next few months. The company has also said it will also sell the Samsung Galaxy S II and S III later this summer, too. And FreedomPop will eventually allow its customers to bring any Sprint device to the FreedomPop service through Sprint's previously announced bring-your-own-device MVNO program.
Meanwhile, another company, TextNow, wants to move from a Wi-Fi-based messaging and calling app to a more wide-ranging mobile service, according to AllThingsD. TextNow will charge $18.99 per month for 500 MB of data, unlimited texting and incoming calls, as well as 750 minutes of outgoing calls. Like fellow Sprint MVNO Republic Wireless, the company will use Sprint's network in areas where customers can't access Wi-Fi.
"From Day One, our biggest priority has been to make smartphone service better and more affordable for everyone," Derek Ting, CEO of TextNow parent Enflick, told AllThingsD. "The announcement of TextNow mobile phone service--combined with our recent launch of Mi-Fi--marks a big milestone toward accomplishing this mission and making it affordable for every person to have a cellphone in his or her pocket."
- see this FreedomPop site
- see this GigaOM article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Forbes article
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