FreedomPop, the mobile virtual network operator distinguished by its free basic service plans, is piloting an exciting new feature for users in Spain: zero-rated access to WhatsApp. As first reported in a VentureBeat article in April, FreedomPop will allow customers to use the popular messaging app without spending their monthly data allowance.
Spain represents FreedomPop’s second international market (after the U.K.) and was selected because of the popularity of WhatsApp, which is used by more than 70% of the country’s mobile consumers. Besides offering access to the service for free, the feature launch is important for another reason: It is being done without any partnership with WhatsApp or Facebook, which owns the service. “FreedomPop is the first carrier to embrace WhatsApp organically and create a model that works without having Facebook push it,” Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop CEO, explained to VentureBeat.
FreedomPop’s business model gives users a set amount of free text, voice, and data, and then upsells those who need more than the basic bundle allowance. In January, it raised $50 million of funding from investors, and given the popularity of WhatsApp in Europe and other markets where unlimited messaging plans are rare, the Spain launch represents FreedomPop’s preparing to enter other markets.
Within the next year, look for FreedomPop to expand its global market share, “either by partnering with existing mobile carriers or disrupting entirely new markets via unique models,” reported a company spokesman. If the company can successfully leverage the popularity of WhatsApp in Spain, users across the world can look forward to offerings from FreedomPop in the future.
Check out this review of FreedomPop