MVNO FreedomPop said it will leverage the competitive environment created by the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile to launch a new MVNO brand called Unreal Mobile that will offer unlimited services starting at $15 per month.
And FreedomPop’s executives made no secret of their plans to leverage the merger for their own ends: “A year ago, there was no way Sprint would have allowed us to offer Unreal,” said Mauricio Sastre, FreedomPop’s SVP of strategy and carrier relations. “Today however, their hands are tied, as Sprint and T-Mobile are held up in regulatory approvals contingent on their ability to demonstrate that competition won't suffer. Given that FreedomPop’s platform is enabling large companies like Dish to launch new MVNO brands in months, we decided to use it for our own purposes.”
FreedomPop announced a partnership with Dish in 2016 to offer free mobile services in Mexico in a model it hopes to duplicate in other markets.
Added FreedomPop in the release announcing its new MVNO: “Unreal Mobile is able to provide consumers this unprecedented value because of the market conditions created by the proposed merger. Specifically, while Sprint and T-Mobile are currently working to prove to regulators that competition will flourish under consolidation, they are compelled to accept MVNO models and pricing that historically would have been seen as too competitive to their retail businesses.”
Indeed, Sprint and T-Mobile are in a regulatory limbo while they await word from regulators at the FCC, Department of Justice and CFIUS on approval of their proposed merger. The companies have argued that their transaction will not reduce competition in the U.S. wireless industry but will instead give the combined company the leverage to compete with heavyweights AT&T and Verizon.
Thus, FreedomPop—an MVNO that initially launched in 2011 on Sprint’s WiMAX network—appears to be working to take advantage of the companies’ merger situation to launch its new Unreal Mobile brand.
“With many experts predicting a rise in prices as the market consolidates, we knew it was time to offer the American public a full service, lowest-price alternative that delivers the same great features but guarantees pricing no matter what happens in the rest of the market,” said Samantha Lewe, Unreal Mobile’s CEO.
FreedomPop said Unreal will launch services in early summer of this year and is currently accepting some beta customers at its website.
The effect of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger on the MVNO space appears to be growing into a major talking point. For example, Peter Adderton, the founder and former CEO of Boost Mobile USA, is taking a public stance against the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. But part of his efforts are centered on pushing regulators to require that the combined Sprint and T-Mobile divest their prepaid businesses into an MVNO, so that he can potentially step in and take control of those operations.