FreedomPop, textPlus team up to offer freemium voice, SMS service

FreedomPop iPhone sleeve

FreedomPop is delivering on its promise to become a voice as well as mobile data provider. At CES 2013, it revealed it’s partnering with IP voice and messaging startup textPlus, bundling the latter’s freemium text and calling app with its freemium broadband service.

textPlus, formerly known as Gogii, and FreedomPop have matching philosophies and business models, which the companies said made them an ideal fit for a partnership. Both have a baseline service that they offer free to customers: FreedomPop gives out 500 MB of free WiMAX data, while textPlus offers free in-network messaging and calling. Both start charging if you move beyond that core service: FreedomPop selling additional megabytes and textPlus phone calls to customers outside of its network.

It’s not quite clear exactly how the two will integrate their services when they launch this quarter, though FreedomPop said it would start offering the equivalent of monthly calling plans, the cheapest being free while the most expensive would be a $15 plan with unlimited texting and 1000 voice minutes.

FreedomPop is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), relying on Clearwire’s WiMAX network to provide 4G service. Unlike other mobile broadband MVNOs like Karma and NetZero, it isn’t just focusing on data modems and hotspots. It’s also selling a sleeve which fits over the iPhone 4 and 4S, replacing the devices’ standard 3G connectivity with its own 4G service. FreedomPop’s ultimate aim is to make its money by selling value-added services, not access itself. Voice and SMS are key components of that strategy.

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