FreedomPop to allow customers to share data, earn more through customer referrals

FreedomPop intends to allow its customers to share wireless data between each other. The company also will reward customers with extra data if they refer new users to the service.

The startup, backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, aims to provide mobile broadband on a "freemium" model by giving out a some data for free and charging users for more. The company has a wholesale deal with Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) for network access, and it intends to announce another carrier partner as well.

In an interview with GigaOM, Tony Miller, FreedomPop's vice president of marketing, described some of the company's strategy in detail. According to Miller, FreedomPop plans to give customers 1 GB of free data per month (with overage charges of 1 cent per MB, or $10 per GB, beyond that), but that the company may shrink or enlarge that amount before the service launches in the third quarter. Customers will be able to get more free data for each new customer they refer to the service, and will be able to give other users their unused data. The company plans to build a social network to facilitate the data swapping. The company also hinted at additional value-added services, though Miller declined to name them; VoIP may be a possibility at some point.

Earlier this month, Miller confirmed to FierceWireless that FreedomPop will launch a case for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S that will allow customers to share a mobile WiMAX connection with up to eight devices, including the iPhone. Miller told GiagOM that the company also wants to launch a mobile hotspot and USB dongle.

It's still unclear how FreedomPop intends to make money, since it is staying quiet about the value-added services it intends to provide. Presumably, those will lure customers to pay for data access beyond the initial free data bucket.

FreedomPop has also stayed quiet about its other network partner. However, the company did say this earlier this month: "FreedomPop will initially use Clearwire's 4G mobile broadband network though an additional partner network will be announced before its launch. Although a specific launch date has not been announced, FreedomPop is committed to launching in 2012 to over 270 million people."

It's unclear which other carrier FreedomPop might buy wholesale access from, but since the company said it was taking aim at Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), those carriers are likely out of the running.

For more:
- see this GigaOM post

Special Report: FreedomPop founder cagey about revenue model for 'free' mobile broadband service

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