Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile may have the most subscribers among U.S. carriers, but there is no shortage of smaller, cheaper outfits with comparable coverage and plans. FreedomPop is one of them.
It is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it taps other carriers’ towers to provide service (Sprint’s, in this case), but one with benefits that some of the major competition lack. It offers free mobile data in 25 countries, a basic service that includes 500 texts, 200 minutes, and 500MB of data each month at absolutely no charge, and unlimited talk, text, and 1GB for $20. Soon, it will begin selling hardware alongside its plans. Recently, the carrier announced the launch of a refurbished phone store for customers in the U.S., Britain, Mexico, and Spain.
The carrier’s new digital marketplace, the FreedomShop, will debut with a catalog of more than 100 different models of Apple, Samsung, and LG phones sourced from the roughly 200 smartphone resellers with which the carrier’s partnered. FreedomPop claims it will stock “every Android and iOS” smartphone from every major manufacturer over the past three years. They will be steeply discounted — up to 80 percent off suggested retail price, FreedomPop said.
They will come with generous purchase protection, too. All phones will be covered by a 30-day “no questions asked” money back guarantee and a 90-day warranty.
FreedomPop’s taking on retail giants Amazon, eBay, and even Apple in the burgeoning reseller market. Analytics firm Deloitte Global projects that customers will trade in more than 120 million phones in 2017, generating more than $17 billion in wholesale revenue. Furthermore, it anticipates the market is expanding “four to five times” faster than the retail smartphone market, which research firm Gartner estimated would grow a mere 1.6 percent by the end of 2016.
FreedomPop, for its part, is confident in its ability to stand out from the crowd. “[We] realized … that the market for refurbished phones is not only massively fragmented, but too scrappy for large companies to really play,” FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols told VentureBeat. “We have spent tens of millions of dollars building this expansive and unique supply chain, putting us in the unique position to undercut the typical resellers found on eBay or Amazon.”
The Los Angeles-based FreedomPop, which recently closed a $50 million venture capital round, recently embarked on an international expansion. In September 2015, it rolled out service in the U.K, and followed in April with a launch in Spain. It also recently began selling service to customers of Latin America pay-TV provider Dish Mexico.
Collectively, the company has raised more than $100 million in funding from Intel Capital, LetterOne, Mangrove Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, Axiata, DCM, Atomico, and others.