Los Angeles Business Journal

FreedomPop Launches Phone Service

By Natalie Jarvey Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When FreedomPop launched a year ago, it's mantra of free Internet for all might have seemed idealistic. But investors and customers have taken a shine to the service, and now FreedomPop has moved on to an even bigger cause: free phone service for all.

The West L.A. company announced Tuesday that it has launched a free phone plan that gives customers access to voice, text and data without paying for a monthly phone contract.

The service is currently available for the HTC Evo Design smartphone, which will sell at a discounted $99. The company said other phones will be added to the service later this year.

The phone comes with 500 megabytes of data, 500 text messages and 200 anytime voice minutes for free every month. Customers can upgrade to unlimited voice and texts for about $11 a month.

"FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services," Chief Executive Stephen Stokols said in a statement. "With this launch, we've just taken our largest step to date towards delivering on this objective."

FreedomPop first announced plans for its own phone service in July after adding an additional $5 million to its series A round. At the time, the company said the service would be available for two phones, a $99 handset and a $199 handset.

FreedomPop's free service is meant to appeal to cost-conscious customers or people who don't frequently use their smart phones for long calls or apps that suck up a lot of data. The company makes its money through upgrades to monthly plans that allow for unlimited texting or additional data or voice minutes.

FreedomPop started by offering free Internet access through laptops and mobile devices by allowing users to tap into a mobile network.

In April, FreedomPop released a $39 wireless hot spot device that connected laptops, tablets and smartphones to the Internet through Sprint Corp.'s 4G WiMax network. The company also sells a sleeve that connects iPhones to a mobile network.

FreedomPop has offered free texting through a partnership with Marina del Rey's TextPlus. The free texting on the FreedomPop phone is not part of the TextPlus partnership, however.

To date, FreedomPop has raised $16 million in funding from investors that include DCM Capital and Mangrove Capital Partners. Executives told the Business Journal in July that the company could close a series B round early next year.