FreedomPop offers $18/month plan for iPhone customers, will start selling financed iPhones

Sprint (NYSE: S) MVNO FreedomPop is offering iPhone 6s and 6s Plus customers who activate their phones on the company's service 5 GB of additional free data to burn through, as well as a plan that offers unlimited voice, texting and 1 GB of data for $18 per month, with the first month free. Meanwhile, FreedomPop plans to offer its own customers the option to finance iPhone purchases.

FreedomPop said iPhone users can access its free service of 500 MBs, 500 texts and 200 voice minutes per month and then get an additional 5 GB of free data upon activation and free international calling to more than 62 countries. Current iPhone 6 users can move their device to FreedomPop's "iPhone-only" $18 per month plans beginning today.

Further, FreedomPop will begin selling financed iPhone 6s units directly starting in October, following Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) decision to offer a leasing program of its own.

In an interview with FierceWireless, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said that in the near future customers will be able to select FreedomPop as a carrier option through Apple's online store and will be offering financed iPhones at "comparable" prices to what Apple is offering, though it will not include an option for an annual upgrade.  

Stokols said that because of high device costs, the iPhone has been largely inaccessible for FreedomPop's target market. However, he said "Apple opened up this new realm and broke the stronghold that the big guys [carriers] have with the iPhone."

Initially, FreedomPop will not offer the iPhone 6s Plus or have financing for it, but that will eventually happen. FreedomPop will offer financing for last year's iPhone 6 models and will be able to offer customers a financed 16 GB iPhone 6 with service for under $25 per month.

Stokols said the shift away from subsidies is offering FreedomPop the opportunity to give its customers iPhones at a more affordable price. "We definitely couldn't in a subsidized world," he said.

In terms of the U.S. business, Stokols said that the company is closing in on 1 million total subscribers. "If we end the month strong we'll be there," he said. "I think actually we'll be there. We're not there yet, we're close."

FreedomPop is also still looking to add a second U.S. carrier partner in 2016 and is "pretty far down the path with one in particular," Stokols said.

In terms of its international expansion, FreedomPop is today launching its service in the UK, on the Three UK network via an MVNE. Stokols said that 250,000 people signed up to be a part of the company's beta, but that it has only brought on a fraction of those so far.

FreedomPop will initially not sell devices in the UK, just SIM cards that support its service. Stokols said the company is doing this because of the nature of the UK market, which is more SIM-based than the U.S., and because it will free it from having to worry about device logistics. However, he said that the company will hopefully be introducing devices into the UK market ahead of the holiday shopping season.

FreedomPop UK users will get 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200 MBs of data completely free for life. Customers will also be able to earn unlimited free data by completing various third-party offers such as taking a survey or downloading a coupon, an offering that is now also live in the U.S. as of today. For example, customers could get 10 MB for taking a 30-second survey, 40 to 50 MB for downloading a McDonald's coupon or 2 GB for signing up for a free Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) trial.

Customers can also share and receive free data with any friends and family that are also FreedomPop users. Users create a social network of sorts and can see when users in their network are low on data or have lots, and offer to give out data or ask others for data. The program has been beta tested in the U.S. but is now live in both the U.S. and UK.

FreedomPop plans to expand its free service to seven other countries within the next 12 months and over 20 markets by 2017. Stokols said that FreedomPop has 15 wholesale agreements locked down in Europe and other markets.

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Article updated on Sept. 22 at 8:15 p.m. ET after FreedomPop clarified that the iPhone-Only plan will cost $18 per month, not $19 per month.