FreedomPop continues to disrupt the wireless communication industry with the upcoming launch of a free mobile service for smartphones that includes 200 free anytime voice minutes, unlimited texting, 500 MB of 4G data and free calling between FreedomPop members each month. The service will be made available on several popular Android phones later this summer, and will be the first-ever all-data devices running 100 percent VoIP over cellular networks.
The plan will be similar to what the company offers with its Freedom Sleeve Rocket case for the iPod touch, and the Freedom Spot Photon and Freedom Spot Overdrive hotspots. These provide 500 MB of free 4G WiMAX data on Clearwire's wireless network, and the opportunity for customers to earn more free data, or pay for additional data at a lower, highly-competitive price.
Forbes reports that FreedomPop will actually be supplying refurbished HTC EVO 4G Android phones for this new smartphone plan, and potentially Samsung and LG handsets. Prices will range from $99 to $199 without a contract, and existing Android-based Sprint phones not glued to a contract can also sign onto FreedomPop at no cost. The company even plans to sell two or more gigabytes of data starting at $18 per month, and an upgrade to unlimited calling for $10 per month.
However Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop's CEO and co-founder, claims 50 percent of FreedomPop's smartphone customers won't pay a single dime towards monthly fees, as the typical consumer uses about 200 minutes of voice and 500 megabytes of data per month. If that's the case, then how can FreedomPop afford to give away 200 voice minutes?
All voice calls are converted into data packets, hence the " first-ever all-data devices running 100 percent VoIP" claim. The cost of wholesale data is reportedly one-fourth to one-fifth the price of renting voice minutes. Even more, VoIP calls use a very small amount of data: a typical three-minute call only requires around 500 kilobytes. Thus, users will be given two separate data allowances per month: one for VoIP calling (200 minutes worth or roughly 32 MB), and 500 MB for emails, web browsing and whatnot.
"The quality of over-the-top VoIP services is now at a stage where we can deliver the major mobile services completely free to consumers. FreedomPop is changing the mobile market for good with the sole intent of bringing better value to the consumer," said Stokols. "FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services. With this launch, we've just taken a very big step towards delivering on this promise."
Stokols said that 45 percent of FreedomPop's customers pay something despite the free offering, whether it's monthly plans (25 percent) or added features (28 percent). He said these add-on services have 90 percent gross margins.
FreedomPop is looking to officially launch the service and phones later this summer, but interested users can sign up for early access now at FreedomPop.com/phone.