Sprint (NYSE:S) MVNO FreedomPop is launching a limited bring-your-own-phone program for its nascent freemium phone service, allowing customers with off-contract and older Sprint smartphone models to bring their phones over to its service.
Sprint's Galaxy S III is one of the devices now supported by FreedomPop.
Under the program, the device can't be under contract with Sprint, and, according to GigaOM, FreedomPop is going to be steadily adding support for the 500 or so phones that currently run on Sprint's network. The report said FreedomPop is currently supporting devices including the HTC Evo 3D and Evo 4G, the Samsung Galaxy S III, Epic 4G and Epic 4G Touch and the LG Optimus S.
FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said last month the company sold out it its first batch of its FreedomPop-branded HTC Evo Design Android smartphones within a day and a half of availability, which he said was "far better than expected demand." Stokols declined to provide the exact number of phones that FreedomPop has sold so far. He said the figure contains five digits--putting the number of phones sold anywhere from 10,000 to 99,999. The phone marked FreedomPop's entry into the phone business; previously it sold wireless data through hotspots and other devices.
Stokols told GigaOM that the company now has waiting list of 200,000 people for its phone service, which is still in beta.
In October FreedomPop started selling refurbished Evo Design WiMAX smartphones for $99 without a contract. Evo buyers got access the company's signature 500 MB of free data per month, but also got 500 text messages and 200 anytime voice minutes free every month for life. Users can also pay $10.99 per month to upgrade to unlimited calls and texts. FreedomPop first launched a year ago offering 500 MB of free wireless data (mainly through USB modems and hotspots) in the hopes that customers would pay for extra data and other services.
Currently, the Sprint BYOD program from FreedomPop does not involve Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones, though the goal is to eventually add iPhones. FreedomPop is still trying to optimize its VoIP and SMS client to work on iOS and Sprint also has a distribution deal with Apple that prevents it from activating iPhones with a partner. (However, earlier this month Sprint MVNO Ting, which is owned by Tucows, confirmed it is now providing service to Sprint-issued iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones. The company described the support as a beta program, which Ting said means that it can provide the service to any new and existing customer but that it cannot promote it or market it on its website.)
Stokols also suggested FreedomPop may sign an MVNO deal with an additional carrier, though he did not say much more on the subject. "We're doing enough volume now that we could support multiple carriers," Stokols told GigaOm. The company today counts well over 100,000 customers.
- see this GigaOM article
- see this 9to5 Mac article
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