TWC's Marcus on Cablevision's Freewheel: 'I think it's pretty cool'

Count Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) CEO Rob Marcus as one of the closest watchers of Cablevision's (NYSE: CVC) disruptive new Wi-Fi-only phone service, Freewheel.

Rob Marcus, Time Warner Cable

Marcus (Source: TWC)

During his company's fourth quarter earnings call with investors Thursday, Marcus stopped short of declaring the impending launch of a similar Wi-Fi product from TWC. But he certainly left the door open.

"It's pretty intriguing to us," Marcus said. "We actually implemented a somewhat similar strategy when we had our MVNO arrangement with Clearwire, in that we offered a small bundle of data--it wasn't a voice product--it was a Wi-Fi-first data offering with an MVNO cellular backup.

"In theory, as the technology for voice over Wi-Fi continues to improve, it's theoretically kind of interesting to think of a variation of what Cablevision is doing," he added. "We're going to watch that see what the uptake is. I'm not sure they struck exactly the right cord in terms of the price and the absence of a cellular backup, but I think it's pretty cool."

Cablevision announced Freewheel Monday, offering its customers a Motorola Moto G phone for $99.95 and unlimited calling over the MSO's New York/New Jersey hotspot coverage area, as well as in their homes, for $9.95 a month.

Pundits and publications, including this one, have asserted the service may be too limited to catch on with a broad market--a claim Cablevision insiders who have beta tested the product over the last few months stridently deny.

However, as Marcus will attest, no one is denying the possibility that a major consumer product offering could ultimately stem from Monday's game-changing announcement.

For more:
- listen to the TWC earnings webcast

Related links:
Maxx impact: TWC residential video sub losses dropped 75% in Q4 to 38K
Cablevision launches Wi-Fi-only mobile phone service
Wireless biz should look past Freewheel's limitations and into Dolan's beady eyes