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FreedomPop starts alpha test of free mobile service in the UK

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FreedomPop turned the mobile world on its head when it introduced its freemium service. Now, the freemium wireless carrier is going global with its free talk, text, and data service. Following its partnership with Dutch carrier, KPN, the company will also expand to include the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and several countries in the Pacific Rim.

Updated on 09-15-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news the alpha test of FreedomPop’s service has begun in the UK, plus details of the plans.

FreedomPop’s alpha test begins in the UK

FreedomPop announced it would launch its free mobile phone service in the UK this summer, and in mid-September, it began contacting those who had signed up for more details. It describes the current stage as an alpha test to collect feedback from early users, in preparation for its official launch later in the year.

Now the alpha test is open, FreedomPop has revealed its subscriber plans. The free plan, for which it’s famous in America, comes with 200 minutes, 200 SMS, and 200MB of data. There are two further plans which require a monthly payment. The Premium 1GB plan is £9 ($13) per month (but is available as a free, one-month trial for alpha testers) comes with 1000 messages and SMS, 1GB of data, and free voicemail. The Premium 2GB is £12 ($18) per month and has unlimited calls, SMS, and 2GB of data.

It’s not clear whether this is a 4G LTE service during the alpha test. FreedomPop doesn’t charge a penalty for going over the data allowance, and instead charges 1p per MB excess. Additionally, for £2 ($3) per month up to 500MB of unused data is rolled over and 20GB in total can be stored, or even shared with friends also connected to FreedomPop.

If you sign up for the alpha test, there’s a £2 ($3) fee for shipping, and the option to pay another £2 ($3) for what it calls Premium Voice, which sounds like HD Voice — a service which is usually free. Interestingly, alpha testers also get to choose their telephone number from a small selection.

Jetsetter, and UK network agreements

There’s no information on the Jetsetter SIM card for travelers yet, which is said to provide 100MB of data for free, that can be used in France and Spain (along with the UK). Fifteen more countries in Europe are expected to be added to the list within the next 12 months.

According to The Telegraph, FreedomPop has teamed up with the Three network in the UK, but is in talks to add a second network in the near future. Also, the option to buy phones and tablets through FreedomPop should also come to the UK by the end of the year.

No final launch date has been given for FreedomPop’s service. Those interested in being one of the first to try out the network can sign-up on the company’s website here.

CEO says more international markets will follow

Digital Trends spoke to FreedomPop’s Co-Founder and COO Steven Sesar in July 2014, and he told us FreedomPop used the Netherlands as a test case to see how well its service works outside the United States. Once it worked out the kinks, FreedomPop aims to bring free and low-cost mobile phone service to everyone around the world.

FreedomPop’s free service is an incredible deal for those who don’t use their smartphones too much.

“Our success triggered interest among international carriers,” Sesar told us, adding that FreedomPop’s service is very competitive and can absolutely work in a “global context.”

“That’s why we’re taking our free service across the globe,” Sesar said. “We want to disrupt current pricing. We’ve already proved that the freemium model can work for everyone.”

FreedomPop aims to expand into eight new markets in the next few years. It won’t sell smartphones in all other countries, but it will still offer the same great freemium plans that it has in the United States. Americans who use the service will also be able to take advantage of the network in FreedomPop’s new markets whenever they travel.

Targeting a million U.S. subscribers, and five more European countries

FreedomPop’s free service is an incredible deal for those who don’t use their smartphones too much, but simply want to text, check email, and make a phone call here and there. Users in America get 200 minutes of voice calls, 500 texts, and 500MB of data each month for free.

Of course, these limits won’t work for the average mobile user, but even so, FreedomPop’s pricing is hard to beat. Once you’ve exceeded your limit, you just have to subscribe to one of FreedomPop’s low-cost plans. The company’s Unlimited Everything plan offers unlimited texts, calls, and data for just $20 a month. However, after you’ve used 1GB of high-speed 4G LTE in a month, your data will scale back to 3G speeds. Even so, FreedomPop will cost you a whole lot less than most carriers, including T-Mobile, which prides itself on its low pricing and fair deals.

The network has attracted 600,000 subscribers, which it wants to increase to a million before the end of the year. It wants to achieve a similar figure in the UK within the next year to 18 months.

It will be interesting to see just how far FreedomPop goes with its global expansion plans, which apparently stalled at the end of 2014, when talks of a $450 million Sprint acquisition began. With everything back in motion, FreedomPop is targeting a launch in five other European countries soon.

Article originally published on 07-10-2014

Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
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