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.
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