Budget MVNO FreedomPop, which offers limited free voice and data services with users having to pay only if they want more, will launch in Spain in the summer, with a new offering: WhatsApp messaging and calling will be completely free regardless of usage.
The MVNO is currently only available in the US and the UK but without the zero-rated WhatsApp perk. In the US, for instance, up to 500 MB data is free, with upgrades ranging from $9.99 to $59.99.
FreedomPop explained that more than 70 per cent of Spain’s mobile consumers use WhatsApp, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of texting in the country.
It has “completely cannibalised traditional mobile services in Spain and shaped a unique opportunity for companies looking to embrace the new OTT world we live in,” said Steven Sesar, FreedomPop COO and co-founder.
“We’re creating a new mobile business model by leveraging WhatsApp’s success to ensure anyone can communicate 100 per cent free, simply by covering the data bill for WhatsApp,” he added.
The company claimed in a statement it is “doing what Facebook’s internet.org has failed to accomplish in Europe. Beginning this summer, users can plug a FreedomPop SIM into their device, and FreedomPop will subsidise any data used by WhatsApp”.
FreedomPop will also offer standard free voice and data plus free roaming in 31 countries. It is accepting beta registrations on a first-come, first-serve basis.
FreedomPop plans to have more than 100,000 users on its UK service in less than twelve months since its launch in September but in Spain it expects “larger traction” because of WhatsApp: it is targeting 500,000 to 1 million Spanish users within two years.
The MVNO will continue its international expansion by launching in additional countries by the end of the year, “either by partnering with existing mobile carriers or disrupting entirely new markets via unique models.”
At Mobile World Congress in February, Nicholas Constantinopoulos, president, told Mobile World Live he had found “the secret sauce” for monetising data, as more operators become open to partnering with the MVNO.
Around 40 per cent of its UK users are revenue-generating. Those users purchase additional services like data rollover, a second international number from any country, online security and international calling.
Back in January, FreedomPop raised $50 million in financing, bringing its total funding to over $109 million.
The new funding was to be used to fuel growth of its service and accelerate its international expansion in markets in Europe, Asia and South America, including the launch of its new global hotspot and SIM, initially covering the European region.