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FreedomPop Phones It In (for Free)

Dan Jones
10/1/2013
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For its next trick, FreedomPop is launching a free mobile phone service that runs voice over IP (VoIP) on Sprint's 4G network.

The Los Angeles startup has been readying the VoIP service for months now. The service will offer users a guaranteed 500 MB of data, 500 text messages, and 200 anytime voice minutes every month free for life. The company will also offer unlimited voice and texting for $10.99 per month with no contract. (See: FreedomPop Jumps on Sprint LTE.)

FreedomPop has been sourcing used High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Evo handsets for the service. The company will charge $99 for the phones. Other Android phones will be available this year. (See: Next Up: FreedomPop Vox.)

"We have been accumulating handsets for months in anticipation of the launch," FreedomPop CEO and co-founder Stephen Stokols told us. "With that said, we will cap the beta at some point in order to ensure that the service is working as planned, then ramp back up again."

The VoIP aspect of the service is the crucial element if the company is to make money from the service, Stokols reveals. (See 5 Rules to Disrupt a $200B US Mobile Market.)

We will make money if users opt into unlimited talk and text for $10.99 or 500 minutes talk for $7.99. Because we are not using the mobile carrier's voice network, but instead leveraging proprietary VoIP technology to go over data, our cost structure is different than the rest of the industry.

The startup isn't hurting for venture capital cash. It raised another $5 million to help its Android push in July, bringing its VC haul so far to more than $16 million. (See: FreedomPop Grabs $5M to Support Android Push.)

Today is the first anniversary of FreedomPop offering free wireless data services. The company is a finalist in Light Reading's Leading Lights Awards. (See: 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative 4G Service.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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@jopocop
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@jopocop,
User Rank: Moderator
10/1/2013 | 7:16:30 PM
Freedom Pop
Hard to beat the deal of "free" or essentially nominal monthly costs for a smartphone experience.  Sure, there is sacrifacing from high end devices and premium telco service, but no doubt Freedom Pop can find its special niche in the market.  If successful, they can try to enter some other nations where the customers may find such deals too good to be true.  

They need to somehow get the word out to the consumers that they exist and what they can offer in terms of bargain basement values.  They really need some scale to make it viable in the long run and to grow into more markets. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/1/2013 | 1:11:08 PM
Re: VoIP
I was curious about that as well. What makes it a proprietary VoIP service, and what are they doing to ensure the quality?
Kevin Mitchell
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Kevin Mitchell,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/1/2013 | 11:27:23 AM
VoIP
So what VoIP solution/partner do they use?
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/1/2013 | 10:37:02 AM
Re: You buying?
Yes that phone lineup is downright sickly. I mean that HTC Evo Design is running Android 2.3! Much more interesting when they add more devices and incorporate that BYOD option they've promised.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/1/2013 | 10:28:17 AM
Re: You buying?
It's definitely an interesting approach. I'd be curious to hear how the VoIP quality is and also how far the free data plan goes. I'm not going to make the switch, but I imagine a lot will, especially Sprint customers who understand that it's using the same network. More handset selection will certainly help as well.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
10/1/2013 | 10:22:53 AM
You buying?
So who's going to try this? I would think if they get more modern Android phones in the later product offerings then this could be an interesting way to have an iPhone and Android for cheaps.
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