CES 2013: Free 4G mobile broadband provider, FreedomPop, coming to the UK?

Free internet service providers were commonplace back at the beginning of the millennium and were brutally hacked off by the dotcom burst. But recent developments in the UK (like the apparition of Ovivo) and the US seem to indicate that free broadband, at least in its mobile form, might be back with a vengeance despite the soft global economic environment.

Can you tell us more about the evolution of FreedomPop?

FreedomPop is a new wireless internet service provider based in the US and backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom. Our goal is to disrupt the $100 billion mobile internet market by enabling free high speed internet for anyone, anywhere, starting from the US.

We interviewed its CEO, Stephen Stokols, to find out about the company’s plans, its new home services as well as one more burning question; will FreedomPop come to Europe?

Why did you start the company?

Consumers are “in love” with their phones as evidenced by ever-increasing data consumption, but they are facing increasing prices, usage caps, throttling, and the threat of limited 4G spectrum. That's not to mention that iPhones are expensive, requiring two-year contract, and lifecycles getting shorter. We started FreedomPop so we could offer consumers access to a 100 percent free comprehensive package of mobile data, text and calling services, enabling them to potentially save thousands of dollars every year.

Who is FreedomPop aimed at?

FreedomPop is ideal for anyone who accesses the Internet, and would like to do so free. Our devices enable users to watch streaming movies, make regular or FaceTime calls, check email, text – everything you could do on an iPhone without needing a Wi-Fi connection. We also offer free broadband in the home, thanks to our new home hub device.

What do you offer in terms of services?

FreedomPop offers a suite of different devices that provide nationwide internet access for free in the US. They can also tether up to eight other devices, essentially allowing you to turn your device into a hotspot with free connectivity. FreedomPop currently offers an iPod sleeve, iPhone sleeve, 4G mifi router, 4G plug-and-play USB dongle and home wifi router.

What have been your biggest challenges yet, and how have you overcome them?

We’ve had a better than anticipated user response since our beta launch, which has been very positive. We are growing rapidly and are in the process of scaling all of our support operations to address that growth. We are looking forward to expanding even further.

What is your vision for FreedomPop in the future, and can you give any insight into upcoming announcements/expansions?

With our announcement last week that we are now partnering with textPlus, for the first time ever, we are able to offer consumers access to a 100 percent free comprehensive package of mobile data, text and calling services. Plus, later this year, we will expand coverage nationwide with the Sprint LTE network in the US and introduce multiple new devices for Android and Apple devices.

Do you plan to expand to Europe?

We do have future plans to expand to Europe (ed: not specifically UK). We are currently in the early stages of teaming with networks partners there.