Light Reading
FreedomPop will soon offer a nearly free 4G WiMax service that users only need an iPod Touch to access

'Pop Goes the iPod

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
7/31/2012
50%
50%

Could FreedomPop allow users to "cut the carrier 100 percent" with its upcoming close-to-free wireless data service?

As Light Reading Mobile reported it would in June, FreedomPop has developed a $99 "wireless sleeve" for the iPod Touch that allows users to access its service.

Here's how it works: the radio sleeve slips over a user's iPod Touch or iPhone 4, links to the phone via Wi-Fi and connects to Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s network via a WiMax radio in the casing. The sleeve will allow the video-capable MP3 player to surf the Web, video chat and more, for free -- or close to it -- on an unsubsidized data device that isn't linked to any carriers.

The startup will give at least 500MB of free data to each user monthly, then charge $10 per gigabyte once a subscriber hits the cap.

Users will be able add 10MB to their data bucket with each friend they get to join the FreedomPop network with a limit of up to 1GB. In addition, FreedomPop will allow heavier data users to earn up to 5GB free by engaging in partner offers and promotions, but the startup hasn't yet revealed details about those deals.

"You'll also be able to share unused capacity with your [FreedomPop] friend network," FreedomPop COO Steven Sesar reveals.

"We're literally cutting the carrier 100 percent," claims Sesar. "This is a Web company disrupting the telco space."

In Sesar's take, cutting the carrier means reducing the cost of acquiring the wireless data device to as low as possible, offering an initially free service and not locking the user into any kind of contract. One of most comparable currently available offerings is the Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM) $65 personal Wi-Fi hot spot, which runs on the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) 3G network.

FreedomPop paid attention to "thousands of emails" requesting that the company make a sleeve for the iPod as well an iPhone. As Sesar points out, plenty of people already have an iPod Touch or can pick one up off eBay for a relatively small outlay.

"Obviously we're not going after the professional market," Sesar states. Instead he sees the target demographic as social networking-savvy 13- to 21-year-olds who want to get online for a low initial outlay.

The company will be building in social networking tools like chat and -- like Zynga Inc. and others -- will allow users to buy into offer ads that will give them more capacity on the network.

Sesar says that the company is eventually shooting to become a "free social wireless broadband" service. He says that it is also possible that the firm will add premium applications like VoIP, although Sesar says that his firm supports Google Chat and Skype already.

Of course, cutting out the carrier is unlikely to appeal to all wireless providers. But FreedomPop will start to offer service in 71 cities in the U.S. on Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s WiMax network and then move toward deploying on Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s LTE network.

So what's in it for Clearwire and Sprint? Expanding market share and possibly lowering wholesale customer acquisition costs, Sesar says.

"The only way they’re going to take market share [from AT&T and Verizon, that is] is by allowing innovative companies like FreedomPop to innovate on their network," Sesar claims.

Sesar says that the friends-recommending-friends, social networking approach of adding customers to its network, could help FreedomPop lower customer acquisition costs. He says that it can cost a carrier hundreds even to get a a personal Wi-Fi hot spot user on the network. The eventual goal for FreedomPop is to take customer acquisition costs lower than $5.

Now, the company is actually getting ready to launch the service this year. "We're about two months away from launching," Sesar says.

FreedomPop is a startup created by Skype Ltd. co-founder Niklas Zennstrom and is backed by his Atomico Ventures VC company. Xconomy says that FreedomPop raised a $7.5 million Series A round in July from Mangrove Capital Partners and DCM - Doll Capital Management .

"We're well capitalized," notes Sesar, adding that what has been made public is not the full amount yet.

For more



— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SReedy
50%
50%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:25:24 PM
re: 'Pop Goes the iPod


I wonder if we'll see anyone buy this in addition to their wireless service - just as anoter data option. Of course, that'd diminish the big selling point of cheaper access...

wanlord
50%
50%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:25:22 PM
re: 'Pop Goes the iPod


I don't get the comment "cutting the carrier 100%". You still have a wireless carrier in the middle.. It's just a different type of plan that any mobile carrier could offer if they wanted. You trust that 911 will work when you need it over this third party VOIP network?  It's Magic Jack for an iPOD, and another device to charge and bulk up your device.

joset01
50%
50%
joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:21 PM
re: 'Pop Goes the iPod


Re: Quality


 


Well it's a best effort thing like Skype or Google Chat. As he made clear its not aimed at people that want pristine wireless quality on a network (as if that ever happens), the service is aimed at young people that want a cheap way to get online.


 


Re: Cutting carrier out


Yeah, its their tagline clearly, but they still need some kind of carrier, seems like its more aimed at cutting out the big boys (as if they care).

joset01
50%
50%
joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:18 PM
re: 'Pop Goes the iPod


Wait, this is still all on the Clearwire network, so they have location, e911 etc on that. I'm just making the point that its clearly not for the five 9s biz traveller type.

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:18 PM
re: 'Pop Goes the iPod


yeah, the 911 thing would be tough to ignore if you're a parent. not sure i'd want to leave my kid without a foolproof way to contact emergency services.


well, i say that, and i've also tried to use AT&T's network in downtown Austin and LA, so I'll just keep the kid current with his tae kwon do lessons and teach him CPR.

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV – Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business – Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Is Windstream Boldly Setting a New Trend?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/29/2014
Sprint, T-Mobile: The Price War's On
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/30/2014
Pics From Comic-Con -- Honest!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/30/2014
If Not Muni Networks, Then What?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/28/2014
Utilities Drive Connected Cars Into the Smart Grid
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/31/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed