Altice closes up shop on Cablevision Wi-Fi calling service Freewheel

Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei
Dexter Goei is the CEO of Altice, which purchased Cablevision, along with its doomed Freewheel service, last Spring. Image: Getty

Announced by the erstwhile Cablevision back in January 2015 as a revolutionary Wi-Fi product that would signal the cable industry’s aggressive entrance into the wireless market, Freewheel won’t even make it to its second birthday.

“Freewheel is no longer available for purchase. If you are an existing Freewheel customer, your service will be discontinued at the start of yoru [sic] December bill cycle,” said a message on the Freewheel customer support site. “All international calling services will end at the start of yoru [sic] November bill cycle and all outstanding international charges will appear on your final bill statement in December.”

The announcement was first reported on by Multichannel News.

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Freewheel’s demise is hardly shocking. Altice USA, which closed its $17.7 billion purchase of Cablevision over the spring, confirmed in July that it was no longer signing up customers for the Wi-Fi calling service. 

RELATED: Altice no longer signing up new Freewheel customers

The service cost $9.95 a month for Cablevision's Optimum Online customers and $29.95 a month for non-customers.

At launch, the offering worked only with Motorola's Moto G, which sells at a heavily discounted $100. The MSO hasn't disclosed usage numbers to date.

Unlike Wi-Fi-first MVNOs such as Republic Wireless or Scratch Wireless, Freewheel can't access cellular networks where Wi-Fi service is unavailable. But Cablevision clearly thought it could attract users who may not need constant connectivity on the go.

"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," Cablevision COO Kristin Dolan said in a statement announcing the service. "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."

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