NYC-based cable TV company Cablevision announced Monday it will offer a WiFi-only data, talk, and text plan for $US30 a month, or $US10 a month for existing Cablevision Optimum Online customers.
The service, called Freewheel, goes live in February.
It seems to be a response to the cord-cutting movement, where more people are abandoning their cable TV plans for online TV services like Netflix. As that happens, people might stop paying for Cablevision’s Optimum service altogether, which includes TV, phone, and internet — unless Cablevision gives them a cheaper, simpler alternative. Something they really want.
“Cablevision recognises the growing shift to WiFi-driven consumer electronic devices and services,” Cablevision CEO James Dolan said in a press release.
But, at its outset, Freewheel will be extremely limited.
- You’ll be able to connect to any of the 1.1 million Optimum hotspots, but they’re only in the New York Metro area.
- It will only support the Motorola Moto G smartphone at launch (on the plus side, that phone will actually be discounted to $US100 without a contract).
- The phone with the strongest signal will be given priority to any given hotspot, which means that other phones trying to connect could get slow service — Cablevision has also been accused in the past of providing slower internet service than its counterparts.
On one hand, it’s a decently cheap WiFi service and you don’t need to pay for an annual contract. But with all those limitations, it probably doesn’t make sense unless you’re already an Optimum customer.
Still, it’s a small step toward a world where your cable provider is more willing to sell you Internet access, in whatever flavour you like, without trying to sell you a TV package alongside it.