'Major carrier' said to be considering acquiring MVNO FreedomPop

A "major carrier" is considering purchasing Sprint (NYSE: S) MVNO FreedomPop, according to a person familiar with the matter. The talks started after Sprint reportedly discontinued its efforts to merge with T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). The talks were described as "formal," although they are still in the negotiation stage and the transaction may not come to pass.

In an interview with FierceWireless, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols did confirm that FreedomPop had become the subject of acquisition talks, but declined to provide any further details.

"There is some inbound inquiries there," Stokols said. "We are actually taking it seriously and looking at it."

For the better part of this year, Sprint and parent SoftBank had been working to launch a formal bid for a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. However, earlier this month Sprint and SoftBank ended their M&A efforts due to opposition from regulators at the FCC and Department of Justice. Shortly afterward, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son replaced longtime Sprint CEO Dan Hesse with Marcelo Claure, who has been tasked with rejuvenating Sprint on a stand-alone basis.

And Claure has wasted no time--last week he announced a new, cheaper individual unlimited data plan and family plans that offer more data than those from Sprint's rivals. In response, T-Mobile has launched a customer referral reward program and, this week, has cut prices on its cheapest plans.

In other FreedomPop news, Stokols also said that the MVNO is on pace to garner 1 million subscribers by the end of 2015, and that the company is in the midst of a retail push that will put its offerings into big and small retailers nationwide by the end of this year.

Stokols said the 1-million-customer figure doesn't include growth from the company's international efforts; FreedomPop last month announced a deal to ride on the network of KPN's Belgian subsidiary BASE as part of a wider strategy to move into Europe and other markets.

"It's growing, it continues to grow," Stokols said of the MVNO's business. "We're starting to get into real scale."

And to continue to drive that momentum, Stokols said that FreedomPop is in the midst of launching its retail sales strategy--FreedomPop up until now has only sold its services online through its website. Stokols said FreedomPop is already distributing its phones and tablets through an unnamed "master wholesaler," a company that supplies products to smaller electronics stores. He said FreedomPop expects to have its products in eight major markets including New York City, Dallas and Houston by the end of the month, covering a total of 500 small outlets.

Stokols also said FreedomPop has inked a deal with retailer Staples to sell its wireless products in 1,700 Staples stores nationwide by the holidays. He said the company also has a distribution with Fry's Electronics and other electronics retailers, with an eye toward a commercial launch by the end of this year.

"This sort of takes us to another level," Stokols said.

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