FreedomPop, a unique US mobile operator, which offers a free 4 G mobile service, has crossed the pond and started offering service to customers in the UK according to a recent article in the Telegraph. The free service is provided through the companies Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), which means that they do not own any cell phone towers or other infrastructure, and instead the companies buys capacity on Three network. UK subscribers are already familiar with similar services provided by TalkTalk and Tesco, and FreedomPop is set up to be a lower cost competitor.
After an initial setup fee of £7, the service is free to its users, provided they don’t go over the monthly limits of 200 minutes of calls, 200 texts and 200MB of data. Once the subscribers go over their limit, they are then able to make additional purchases of packages that cost anywhere between £4.99 and £16.99. It is these additional packages on which the company makes its money. In addition to these subscription packages FreedomPop on androidcentral allows users to complete surveys with third party subscribers.
FreedomPop founder Stephen Stokols, who founded the company in 2011, admits that only half of the users in the US buy any extra time from the company. Despite this, he says that the company will only have to attract about 50,000 subscribers in the UK in order to turn a profit. Stokols founded the company in the US based on an idea he had while working at BT. The idea was rejected for funding by telecom giant’s retail arm, but the chief executive Gavin Patterson acted as an advisor to FreedomPop and Stokols until FreedomPop entered the UK and became a competitor to the company.
Part of the business model of FreedomPop involves sending as much data over WiFi instead of using traditional cellular networks. WiFi networks are less expensive to access and more cost-effective than traditional data and cellular networks, however, they are not as accessible as cellular networks. Stokols is currently in talks with BT to acquire access to the companies WiFi network, which would provide FreedomPop and its users with access to around 5 million hotspots.
Currently customers interested in signing up for FreedomPop’s mobile phone service in the UK must do so online, but the company is in talks with two major street retailers to allow Britons to sign up through them.