Los Angeles Business Journal

FreedomPop Partners with TextPlus

By Natalie Jarvey Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Two L.A. telecom startups have joined forces to take on Internet and cell phone service providers.

FreedomPop, a Tarzana company that offers free wireless Internet service, announced Tuesday that it will begin offering free text message and phone calls in partnership with Marina del Rey startup TextPlus.

By March, FreedomPop customers will be able to sign up for phone plans that allow them to surf the web, text and call for free.

Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s chief executive, said that adding phone calls and texting will eliminate a customer’s need to sign up for a monthly plan through communication giants such as Verizon Wireless or AT&T.

“If you wanted, you could circumvent Verizon or cut down on your Verizon bill,” he said.

FreedomPop gives away 500MB of high-speed Internet, or the equivalent of sending 23,000 emails, for free each month through an app that people can download to a cell phone, computer or tablet device. It makes money when heavy users, such as those who like to watch videos, upgrade to paid plans that cost up to $15 a month.

FreedomPop will now include a texting and phone call application using TextPlus technology as part of its free and paid plans. The companies will share in revenue from the sale of these plans and advertising sales.

Scott Lahman, the chief executive of TextPlus, said he became interested in FreedomPop after it launched last year and reached out to Stokols when he learned the company was also based in Los Angeles.

The TextPlus app has already been downloaded more than 44 million times since it debuted in 2009. But the app only works on devices that connect to Wi-Fi. By partnering with FreedomPop, the company’s technology can also be used on FreedomPop’s high-speed broadband Internet network, which reaches 120 million people nationwide.

FreedomPop, meanwhile, will benefit from TextPlus’ large user base.

“FreedomPop helps us complete the fantasy of turning any Internet-connected device into a phone,” Lahman said. “Now you can connect via voice and text outside of traditional Wi-Fi zones.”