FreedomPop/textPlus To Offer Free Mobile ServiceJanuary 08, 2013
by Adam Popescu
Paying an arm and a leg for your mobile service plan? Maybe not for much longer.
On Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, FreedomPop, which for $99 turns your old iPod Touch into a virtual VoIP iPhone with its built-in 4G LTE hotspot case, is announcing a deal with free text and calling service textPlus.
The partnership gives FreedomPop users free access to make calls, text, check email, watch streaming movies with 4G speed, and even tether other devices. The free plan specifically gives users 500MB of 4G data. Paid elements of the service, such as family plans, cost anywhere from $4 to $15 per month.
Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop's chief executive, described the combination as a new way to leverage the mobile market with a "low-cost option for users." "It broadens our feel and puts users in a position to be cut carriers," explained Stokols. "We're going to give users the ability to have full phone calls and text and data for under $5 a month." And they no longer need Wi-Fi access.
Comparable standard mobile plans from providers like Verizon cost 10 times as much, or more. Stokols says this is the first step towards expanding telecom services to other devices.
FreedomPop, which Stokols says has hundreds of thousands of users, decided to go with textPlus because it had the right mix of technology and price. Scott Lahman, textPlus' founder and chief executive said the two companies share similar goals: delivering economic telecom options.
“Our philosophy at textPlus, that anyone should have access to free and low-cost mobile communications, aligns perfectly with FreedomPop’s free mobile data offering," Lahman said via email. "Together, textPlus and FreedomPop are changing the way people communicate worldwide by giving them unparalleled choice and access to free and affordable texting, calling and data services.”
Could this be the next big wireless provider? Probably not. Given its cobbled-together nature and lack of marketing heft, the combo is unlikely to scare Verizon or AT&T. But it could be a viable alternative for extremely cost-conscious mobile users, and a legitimate challenge to low-cost pre-paid mobile services.