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FreedomPop Adding Cellular Voice Option

In a post on their blog today, freemium Sprint MVNO FreedomPop "Premium Voice" which will allow FreedomPop Android phones to seamlessly switch calls from VOIP to cellular voice when the data connection is too slow support VOIP reliably. This is pretty big deal as VOIP calling is unusable on 2G connections and often leaves a lot to be desired on 3G connections. The new service will be available soon to new and existing FreedomPop customers. Existing customers will receive it as an update to the FreedomPop Messaging app in Google Play.

The blog post didn't reveal pricing for the new service but in an interview with FierceWireless, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said Premium Voice will be free to customers on the  $20/month unlimited plan. Customers on the free plan will get the first month of Premium Voice for free but after the first month it will cost $2.99/month. Stokols said that Premium Voice for iOS would be available later this year.

In the FierceWireless interview Stokols also said that FreedomPop is still negotiating with an unnamed company that's interested in acquiring or merging with FreedomPop. He expects to know in four to six weeks, but possibly longer, whether a deal is possible. If M&A deal falls though FreedomPop has lined up another significant round of venture capital funding.

Stokols also said FreedomPop is growing by 10% or more each month and should hit one million customers in the third quarter of this year. The company still plans to begin offering service in at least one European country early in the second quarter with eventual expansion into five European countries including Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium. Stokols didn't say which country it would launch in first but that it would be in larger market than Belgium.

FreedomPop, which launched in October, 2012, offers free data-only service for phones, tablets and mobile broadband devices. The company's free plan for phones includes 500MB of data, 200 minutes of VOIP calling and 500 messages.  There's also $20/month plan with limited calls, messaging and data (throttled to "3G" speeds after 1GB/month).

Update 5/22/15: The launch of Premium Voice seems to have been delayed. Users activating new FreedomPop devices are reporting that there is no Premium Voice option in their FreedomPop app.

Update 5/28: Premiun Voice is now available to all FreedomPop Android using a new version of the FreedomPop Messaging Andriod app which is available now in the Play Store and enable the Premium Voice in the app's Available Services menu. Premium Voice costs $3.99 for all users rather than the free for unlimited plan customers and $2.99 for others pricing that FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols told FierceWireless last month.

Related: Prepaid Operator Profile: FreedomPop

25 comments:

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  1. Motorlola is running another promotion.

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    1. Do you have a link? What's the deal?

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    2. I think the OP means the free Moto Hint with purchase of Moto X offer.
      http://www.motorola.com/us/home

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  2. I am done with them. I tried their app for android, it used a lot of data and battery when doing nothing. Their web site continues to be an email address harvesting operation, as you cannot shop their site without a real email and real physical address, which cannot be reused. You would think they would want to upsell me, but I can't use the email I used for the app to browse their phones or hotspot devices. The purchase funnel is a minefield of opting out of stuff I don't need and free trial offers I don't have time to cancel. The merger partner probably just wants all that customer data.

    Ps I think the last sentence has a typo, the $20 plan is unlimited talk?

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  3. I'm glad to see small carriers being able to sustained themselves and offer an alternative to consumers. Even-though me personally wouldn't do business with freedompop again. I had bought a hotspot in September from them that was defective the moment it arrived, sent it back and I'm still waiting for my money.

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    1. Sounds like you are wishing the misery you had, upon many new customers?

      Anyway, imagine how successful FreedomPop might be if they treated their customers well, instead of using shady tricks to try and get people to buy services they don't want. And if they promptly paid you for refunds for defective equipment.

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    2. So far, all of our BYOD phones have worked flawlessly (as well as the service can work). The only issue we've ran into was with a "refurbished" hotspot we purchased. It came with a bad battery (seemed pretty common looking at the complaints), but I ordered a $3 battery on ebay and we haven't had an issue since.

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  4. Now good call quality.but battery is eating like anything since 3g is.active all the time.

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  5. Haven't tried the phone service yet, but my Overdrive Pro has been working fine for two years. Very handy for travel and as cable service backup. My sister used the MiFi hotspot to replace her home DSL service and saves $21/month for her light use. Now she has internet at work and her country home too, so she saves again by not having a phone data plan.

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  6. $20/month unlimited plan is not at all a deal, if we pay 5 more dollars, we ll get republic wireless where you can use upto 5gb per month and once in six months it can exceed 5gb.

    Both use same network...

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  7. Republic Wireless is a joke! Just read what people are saying about them on tech review sites, tech blogs, social media sites and mobile phone forums - basically to STAY AWAY FROM THEM. RW has been trying to wrangle customers for the past 4 years and reports across the net show that they only have about 200k customers. Mainly because their service is in this constant beta-state where many standard features that people are accustomed to don't work. Their forums are inundated with complaints daily about how the phone service just isn't reliable and doesn't function like any other ordinary cell phone. Even Yahoo Tech gave them a thumbs down. CNN Money is reporting a bunch of problems they refuse to fix, again, even after being in business for four years.

    •Republic is a VoIP provider, NOT cellular - you are given a landline # and a 'hidden' Sprint # (how's that for shady)
    •MMS is not supported (they say it is but users complain constantly on their forums that it
    doesn't work)
    •Short codes are not supported (customers complain that not all short codes work)
    •Emoticons are not supported in texts
    •No text to email gateway
    •No account suspension
    •No tethering
    •If you "root" your phone, they will no longer offer you support and void your warranty
    •Dialer cannot be programmed to accept a 'pause'
    •Cannot change amount of ringtimes before going to voicemail
    •No international calling
    •No transferring of phone to new users or splitting/combining accounts
    •No BYOD - they refuse to offer this bemoaning technical difficulties they can't overcome
    •No services in Alaska, Hawaii, or New Hampshire
    •Voicemail has no envelope features
    •Voicemail notifications not delivered if you have no cellular coverage
    •911 caller ID will show your secret Sprint number unless you're on wifi
    •No X11 numbers can be dialed, only 911
    •No customer service other than crowd-sourced forums where confused customers 'try' to help each other
    •Only ONE 4G smartphone is sold (Moto X) - and you MUST buy it from them
    •Republic does not allow simultaneous use of voice and data on their phones.

    Freedom Pop may have a few problems, but it sure has RW beat when it comes to offering a service with more standard features with a wider selection of phones, even BYOD.

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  8. all these draw backs are nothing , when we compare 5gb for 25 dollar With RW and 1gb for 20 dollar with FP.

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    1. "all these draw backs are nothing , when we compare 5gb for 25 dollar With RW and 1gb for 20 dollar with FP."

      Actually FP gives UNLIMITED 3g data for $20 a MONTH. (On BYOD you have to request it on their forum).

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  9. Both Republic Wireless and Freedom Pop are horrible. I am amazed they can stay in business. There are too many decent alternatives to bother with such unscrupulous companies.

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    1. I agree. There are lots of superb MVNO alternatives. Ting and Consumer Cellular are both excellent. Ting has THE BEST customer service around. You call them, and a native English speaker picks up by the second ring and you speak with a live agent to get primo customer service. Impressive! With RW, you have to email them or submit a ticket and wait 3-7 days until everything is ironed out to your satisfaction.

      Actually, to your comment about how they can stay in business, RW is not doing so well with only 100-200k customers (there are articles across the interwebs supporting this) and many expect them to just wither away once Google opens up shop with their own wireless business. RW hasn't been able to schmooze the necessary companies to get things moving along for their business, and the negative reviews of them at consumer feedback websites is all telling. Things are not going well in RW Land. They are constantly losing top tier managers and directors as they move on looking for greener pastures and more honorable companies to work for.

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    2. Our family uses Ting and Consumer Cellular. They are the best MVNOs for customer service and our family use that I have found out of the 15 I have tried over the past 4 years (Truphone customer service is just as good). Ting taxes are slightly lower in our area, but Consumer has wider data coverage/data roaming (which we only use a couple of times per year), and family plan members talk to each other without being charged for the minutes.

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  10. I used to be with Republic but ended up leaving them BECAUSE of all of those drawbacks. They never fixed any of them, and some of them were problems going back to 2011 when I signed up for them. Republic is a company founded on excuses. Just one excuse after another why they can't get things right or how it is soooo difficult to do things or how the other phone companies won't play nice with them. It was always Republic pointing the finger at someone else and not taking responsibility for their shortcomings or their inability to move the company ahead. I actually recruited about 10 people for them and they all ended up leaving Republic. It's just not a service that works well enough to rely upon.

    Freedom Pop is the real mover and shaker at this point. They opened their doors for business after Republic did and they got more done with their company than Republic did. FP is quickly approaching 1 Million customers were Republic's star is fading with the paltry numbers of customers they have signed up. Republic had a good idea back in 2011 with their extremely enticing $19 marketing plan, but now they are as expensive as just about any of the other MVNO's, and they don't rely so heavily on WiFi.

    And with Google soon to enter the wireless fray, not to mention the ability to already make FREE WiFi calls via Hangouts with the Google Dialer, I don't see Republic being anything more than another one of the bottom feeders in the MVNO barrel fighting for the scraps left behind by the Big 4 and the other more aggressive MVNO's.

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  11. A buddy of mine got the LG Viper from FreedomPop, call quality is good for him, but it is really bad for those of us on the other end, that have to listen to it.

    We did some testing and put Skype on his FP phone and other phones for a baseline as a test, only his FP phone had bad call quality, so it looks the FP App is doing something their phones that is bad for all VOIP apps, or they are putting a modified version of Android on their phones that is causing the problems.

    So is anybody out there having good luck with VOIP on FreedomPop?

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    Replies
    1. Google Hangouts seem to work better when I do my tests.

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  12. Line sounds excellent on a Freedomphone

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  13. Any updates on this native cellular voice?

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  14. One feature that would be great if is I were able to text to it and an app like WMD (where is my droid) would text back the phone's GPS. It saves a lot of battery not to have data on.

    Unless there is another app that would work by not using data but sms only; sms to the phone number goes to a sprint number. Since it is a dummy number, it is worthless.

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  15. Any news yet on cell voice? So far, in coming voice quality seems good on FP iphone 5s, not so good say the folks on the other side of the call. got the iphone 5 with 1 year of unlimited voice and texts for $300.

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    Replies
    1. Cellular voice which FreedomPop calls "Premium Voice" is only available on Android, not iOS. By accounts I've read it doesn't work very and only works on outgoing calls.

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