Mexican pay-TV provider Dish has announced a free mobile phone service for its customers via U.S.-based MVNO FreedomPop. The launch follows the deal reached at the end of last year between FreedomPop and Dish’s parent company MVS Communicaciones and, according to a news report, the service will be available in 16 states at first before being rolled out throughout the rest of the country in the first quarter of 2018.
All customers will be offered a SIM card with 100 minutes of calls, 100 MB of data, 100 MB for social networks and 100 SMS a month. Excess minutes, data and SMS can be paid for via Dish bills. FreedomPop announced the launch of its service in Mexico a year ago, operating on the network of América Móvil’s Telcel.
Combining TV with voice and data offerings is certainly nothing new, but the Dish-FreedomPop package is not a traditional multiple-play, because Dish is a satellite rather than cable provider and FreedomPop is an MVNO without any network of its own. Still, the offering has the potential to be appealing especially to budget-minded consumers in areas underserved by cable TV who want limited amounts of mobile service and seamless billing (if any billing is, in fact, required).
Essentially, Dish is starting its own MVNO through FreedomPop, leveraging the American company’s expertise and plan structure and also partnering with Telcel for network access. Like many non-telecom entities that launch MVNOs, Dish is counting on its existing subscriber base and a certain amount of synergy to power the venture. Dish customers who are familiar with and comfortable with the TV provider will likely be more willing to subscribe to mobile service that is branded with that provider’s name than to one that is not, and the fact that any billing that occurs for will be through Dish adds appeal. The selling points are simplicity and lack of expense. As in its other ventures, FreedomPop generates revenue from overages and from paid services it offers as customers upgrade. How much data and other functionalities Mexican subscribers to the Dish-FreedomPop MVNO see fit to use, eventually, remains to be seen.