BY Joe Dargan
Founded in 2011, FreedomPop is disrupting the mobile phone industry by becoming the first international service provider to offer a 100 percent free mobile service plan.
Plans start at zero dollars a month, including 500 text messages, 200 minutes of international talk time, 500 megabytes of internet service and 8 million free internet hotspots nationwide.
A variety of refurbished phones can be purchased on the company’s website.
Service packages that provide more minutes, messages and megabytes are available for a price.
An unlimited plan will cost customers around $20 a month, half the price of the cheapest major carrier according to Freedompop’s website.
Mobile hotspots are also available at a discounted rate for people on the go with multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
FreedomPop’s prices are made possible by accepting a lower margin of profits, keeping a small staff of around 100 employees and maintaining little equipment.
Wi-Fi and cellular service is provided to 2 million customers, half of which receive 100 percent free service by using the cell phone towers of AT&T and Sprint.
While other major carriers bring in a profit of around $45 a month per customer, FreedomPop makes about $15 a month per customer, according to the company’s CEO and cofounder Steven Stokols.
For all of the great benefits that come with FreedomPop, there are some pitfalls.
Customers have complained about dropped calls, spotty internet service and occasionally being booted from Wi-Fi connections.
Stokols, along with the company’s entire staff, are also part of FreedomPop’s customer base. “You have to be eating your own dog food,” said Stokols in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“Even though other service providers may have better coverage, the great deal customers receive from FreedomPop is worth the occasional issues. We want to get to where communications is a free utility everywhere,” said Stokols.