Altice no longer signing up new Freewheel customers

A month after closing its $17.7 billion purchase of Cablevision, Altice USA has announced that the MSO's Freewheel Wi-Fi calling service will not be singing up any new customers. 

Late last month, Altice confirmed that it would not move forward with the Cablevision Wi-Fi service — a counter-intuitive move in the U.S. cable industry, with major MSOs including Comcast beginning to ramp up mobile initiatives. 

"We will no longer be selling Freewheel to new customers," said a message on the freewheel.com site. "All existing customers will be able to continue enjoying Freewheel."

Cablevision launched launched Freewheel in January 2015. 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."

Altice has not said when existing Freewheel customers will see their service ended.

For more:
- visit the FreeWheel website
- read this Multichannel News story

Related articles:
Altice creating 'culture of fear' at Suddenlink, former staffer tells WSJ
Cablevision to shutter Freewheel as Comcast, others prepare to jump into mobile
Dolan family buys back Newsday from Altice

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