It is back to the future for FreedomPop, which has introduced a “better calling experience”
called “Premium Voice technology.” So is it a fancy new Internet Protocol tweak? No, the service uses a second generation network, much as 4G networks often rely on 3G for voice services.
That sort of thing--finding a new use for stranded assets, or encouraging customers to use resources off peak--happens often in the telecommunications business.
One reason some mobile service providers, such as Sprint and T-Mobile US, are so supportive of allowing customers to make free voice calls, send free text messages and use mobile Internet access on Wi-Fi is that doing so frees up mobile network bandwidth, even if it risks sacrificing some revenue.
One reason telephone companies used to feature highly-discounted calling during the evenings and on weekends was that the network was lightly loaded at those times.
On the other hand, FreedomPop also has been among the leaders in the mobile space at combining Wi-Fi and mobile network access, a feature likely to be fundamental by the time fifth generation networks are commercialized.
The Premium Voice capability essentially involves sensing when the IP connection is unstable, and switches a call over to Sprint’s 2G network.
Some believe 5G will be built as an extension to 4G, while others think the break might be more discontinuous. If we are less than 10 years away from launch, either pattern could occur.
But some might argue all the fundamental building blocks (extremely low latency, extremely high bandwidth, ability to use any network, software defined networks, network functions virtualization, big data capabilities, small cell technology, better antennas, exploitation of new millimeter wave frequencies and so forth already are clearly coming.
And then there is the other possibility we usually do not consider, as in the case of putting old legacy networks to new users, or monetizing otherwise stranded assets.