When is a cell-phone plan not a cell-phone plan? When it’s run entirely on WiFi hotspots. Cablevision is hoping that today’s connected consumer feels comfortable enough with their local WiFi coverage to sign up for their new Freewheel mobile plan. The first of its kind, Freewheel takes the cellular towers out of the equation almost entirely, opting for an experience based on WiFi calling, texting, and data.
Freewheel is based on the assumption that nearly anywhere most people go, they’ll find some variety of WiFi hotspot. Cablevision has been working to increase their own fleet of hotspots, but more often than not, anywhere people tend to go, WiFi access is sure to follow. Businesses, even metropolitan areas often tout their free WiFi to visitors so finding a place to connect isn’t necessarily the hardest thing to do.
The issue I see with Freewheel is that there are definite gaps in this variety of coverage. Cablevision isn’t leaving subscribers completely in the dark, emergency calling will always be available whether on WiFi or not, but relying on WiFi for your data removes a pretty significant chunk of the convenience of a cell phone. Imagine you’re driving and need directions, or a child is trying to contact their parent, etc. Driving directions can always been pre-loaded before a trip, but if you’re outside of WiFi range, you won’t get that call from your child.
Otherwise, Freewheel will set you back $29.95 per month as a standalone service, or $9.95 per month if you’re a subscriber of Cablevision’s Optimum Internet service. Either price point is far less than any other mobile phone service, but other services will work without a reliance on WiFi. Initially, any subscribers looking to take advantage of the Freewheel service will be required to purchase a Motorola Moto G for $99.95 as well.
If you’re living on the East Coast, in Cablevision’s area of operation (New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut), and don’t mind living with a few small caveats, look for Cablevision’s Freewheel plan starting in February.
Any Cablevision subscribers in the audience? What do you think of this plan? Are you rushing out to sign up? Let us know in the comments, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.Source: Fast Company