The New York based cable operator, Cablevision, is going to shutdown their Freewheel service. This is a great example of the complexities cable companies have to face while entering wireless market.
The Freewheel service was launched last year by Cablevision as a way to lure in more customers. The Wi-Fi based service concentrated on data, instead of intending to replace cellular offering. The service was offered at a discounted monthly rate of $9.95 for Cablevision’s Optimum Online consumers and $29.5 each month for non-Optimum subscribers.
The offer worked exclusively with the Moto G smartphone launch, which was sold at a greatly discounted price of $100. However, the problem began when Altice, a Dutch Telecom Corporation, started closing in acquisition of Cablevision.
Altice gave red signal to its future subsidiary Flywheel and shut down its services. The major drawback of Freewheel when compared to Wi-Fi MVNO’s such as Scratch Wireless and Republic Wireless was that it couldn’t access cellular networks in areas with unavailable Wi-Fi services.
Cablevision introduced this service with a single intention of attracting more customers, who do not need constant connectivity during travel. During the time of its introduction, Chief Operating Officer of Cablevision Kristin Dolan said that, “Cellular was built for voice and Wi-Fi was built for data, which is why Wi-Fi is the preferred choice for data usage today.”
“Freewheel integrates a high quality device backed by the strength of our professionally maintained carrier-grade Wi-Fi network. As the thirst for data continues to grow, Freewheel provides consumers with a better, faster data experience, all at a fraction of the cost of cellular,” he added.
The decision to shutdown Flywheel’s service comes as a result of the immense competition among cable operators targeting US mobile customers. World’s leading cable TV operator by profits, Comcast, made an MVNO agreement with Verizon recently, and it is believed to launch its Wi-Fi service this year. Comcast is even preparing for FCC’s incentive auction to acquire 600 MHz spectrum as a way to offer its very own service without much depending upon Verizon.
Charter is planning to offer nationwide wireless service as well, as its recently acquired Time Warner Cable company already has access to Verizon MVNO agreements. Charter Communications, which is currently the second biggest cable operator in the US after Comcast, will be looking forward to utilize this opportunity to surpass Comcast.