Facebook-owned WhatsApp could be said to have almost completely replaced traditional voice and text messaging, being the most popular instant messaging service worldwide. In an attempt to woo the large WhatsApp user base, US-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) FreedomPop has launched a new offer that gives free access to WhatsApp in over 30 countries, including the US. This offer is applicable even when the user is on roaming, allowing them to use WhatsApp abroad for free.
This offer is a new strategy to get more people to sign up to its service in the US. "There really is no reason anyone should have to pay for voice and text in today's environment. Over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp have eliminated the need for traditional voice and text services that carriers still force US users to pay hundreds of dollars a year for. The zero-rated model is gaining traction in more developing countries, and FreedomPop is leading the way here in the US," Chris Chen, FreedomPop's SVP of product explained to VentureBeat.
Some of the countries included in FreedomPop plan are Germany, UK, France, Portugal, and Italy. Apart from free WhatsApp access, the offer also includes 100 voice minutes, 500 SMS, and 200MB of additional data.
FreedomPop was launched in 2012 in Los Angeles, and started off with giving free limited talk time and mobile data. Last year in September FreedomPop went international with its launch in UK. It then managed to raise $50 million in funding this January, and later even launched its services in Spain four months later.
Last year, an Italian firm called WhatSim had introduced a similar offer in its country. It was offering a WhatsApp-only SIM card that came with a plan to let you use the popular messaging app for free while travelling across 150 countries. Even in Germany, telecom operator E-Plus was selling prepaid SIMs that offered unlimited WhatsApp usage.