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Communications Cellphones Handhelds Network Networking Wireless Networking

For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network 43

The New York Times reports that Cablevision Systems plans to announce on Monday the start of a low-cost mobile phone service that will use Wi-Fi for connectivity rather than standard cellular networks, the first such service to be introduced by a cable operator. Called Freewheel, the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting worldwide for $29.95 a month, or $9.95 a month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers — a steep discount compared with standard offerings from traditional cellular carriers. Freewheel customers initially must use a specific Motorola Moto G smartphone, which is being sold for $99.95. The service goes on sale next month, and no annual contract is required. (Reuters carries a similar story.)
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For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network

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  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Monday January 26, 2015 @06:27AM (#48903177)

    $30/mo is a terrible price. If all you want is talk/text, you can get that, on an ACTUAL cellular network (Cricket/AT&T, and I'm sure other providers) for $25/mo. And, to top it off, they'll only charge you $25 for that Moto G, instead of $100.

    As a $5 add-on to your cable plan, it's pretty nice... but not at the "rack" rate.

    • "the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting" -- Unlimited data. Notice that bit there? I have no idea how fast it is or anything, but last I heard nearly all carriers in the US have ridiculously low datacaps.

      • by msobkow ( 48369 )

        Yes it does. Over WiFi. Which has far, far less range than a cellular network. Which means as soon as you leave town... *CARRIER LOST*

        • by Imagix ( 695350 )
          Which is true. I have the same problem with certain lower-cost cell providers where I live. As soon as you wander out of the downtown area, you're hit with roaming charges. For some people that may serve their needs (they never leave downtown). Same as wifi coverage only. May serve many people's needs. They never leave the populated areas. Doesn't work for me, but I recognize that my usage may not be typical.
          • Where I live, the entire metropolitan area is covered with wifi hotspots put up by the local cable/telco companies. I actually have an iPod with Hangouts on it that acts as my in-town phone; this is the first device that Google Talk tries to reach when there's an incoming call.

            Since you're not really supposed to be on a phone while in transit, I find this system works amazingly well (and doesn't require half of what Cablevision is requiring). I have a device that is significantly thinner than all phones,

      • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

        Since the data is wifi only, I doubt data caps are an issue. On the other hand, as someone who lives in the region (and who is a customer) I know firsthand that there are plenty of dead spots where there will be no access. Want to call home from the supermarket to see if you need milk? You're going to need to walk out to the parking lot first.

        On a side note, Cablevision offers customers free wifi routers for home use with their service. These routers also act as wifi hotspots for their network.

        • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

          I should clarify that I do not have their mobile phone service, rather, that as a customer, I often try to access their network of wireless hotspots.

      • Most ISP's (and some cell carriers) offer unlimited data on their own WiFi network already. That's not really a very big feature.

        There's no sign they are including a single byte of cellular data here.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        Sprint (and perhaps Cricket as well since they're on the Sprint network) does offer actual unlimited data (no throttling crap). Their CEO claims to be a techie so that may be one of the reasons.

    • If you could run asterisk on your handheld, then you could reasonably just connect it to a SIP trunk and get the same functionality for $8/mo. Anyone know anyone working on an asterisk port to Android? I heard that the Serval Project [servalproject.org] has done it. But what I think is needed is just an asterisk APK with asterisk and a simple config GUI that gives enough functionality to just get basic trunking working. Voicemail would be stored on the phone itself in this case, which would also be very cool.

      Maybe I should exp

      • You can just connect any of the many SIP or IAX trunk providers to software. The main issue is battery life sucks.

        • You can just connect any of the many SIP or IAX trunk providers to software.

          So I haven't actually tried to use my SIP trunk credentials with the Android SIP client, but I'm having a hard time imagining it working...

          • It works, issue is SIP not really well designed for a battery powered devices.

          • I've used it with CallCentric. It works, but as others have stated it really sucks down your battery life. Instead I now just have an Obi device plugged into regular cordless phones, and I have the unit ring my cell and work desk phone as well. The result is that I get away with using T-Mobile's $30/mo prepay plan that only includes 100 minutes, but has 5GB high speed/ unlimited Edge and unlimited texts.

      • Just assign yourself a number in Google Hangouts, and you get this for free, barring wifi connection costs. Voicemail is stored in the cloud, with the option to text message you VTT transcripts as soon as you connect any of your Hangouts-enabled devices to the internet.

  • but why restrict it to the Moto G handset only? Surely it's a software client?
  • You can get unlimited talk/text for 25 a month through GoSmart.

    For people that don't use the phone much you can get 2000 minutes which are good for a full year from PagePlus at a cost of 80 dollars. Or about 6 dollars a month.

    Telefonica offers some really cheap pre paid programs with roll over minutes that can see your actual costs per month around 6 dollars with perhaps more minutes from the roll overs.

    T-Mobile offers a prepaid 3 dollars a month program which is the absolute cheapest but you only get 30 mi

  • Republic Wireless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Republic Wireless offers the same thing for $5/month.

  • by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Monday January 26, 2015 @07:38AM (#48903397)

    The whole controversy last year about Comcast offering public wi-fi using the routers they supply to their home customers suddenly makes a lot more sense. Normal wi-fi data usage from outside users in a residential area is not a widely used feature, but "cellular" wireless is much more common. I bet we'll see a similar service (similarly priced) from them shortly.

  • If you don't mind all the caveats of having phone service that only works when you're in range of a WiFi hotspot, Freedompop offers exactly the same thing, nationwide, for $5/mo.

    And as others have said, if you don't mind hotspot hunting when you want data, you can easily find unlimited talk & text plans on real cellular networks for under $30/mo. Heck, pony up the extra $5/mo for the $35/mo plan and Cricket (which is now a national carrier owned by AT&T) will throw in 1GB of data.

    Leave it to cable

    • by Jhon ( 241832 )

      Freedompop also offers free service. 200 mins/mo, 500 text and 500mb of data. Free. As in zero ($) dollars.

      I picked up a cheap iphone 4s (sprint), activated it on FP and it is decent. It doesn't do great on the move (driving), but stationary, the voice quality isn't bad. Data speeds are around 1mbps +/- 500mbps.

      Their app also offers a similar free service via an app (wifi only) sans data (for obvious reasons).

  • $30 a month for Android SIP client, BRILLIANT.

  • by Alexander Nuttall ( 3969939 ) on Monday January 26, 2015 @08:22AM (#48903593)
    "T-Mobile, for example, offers a Wi-Fi router that is designed to allow iPhone owners to place phone calls over a Wi-Fi connection. That helps offload some of the traffic that would have gone on T-Mobile’s voice network, but it also compensates for areas where T-Mobile has poor coverage." The writer wrote the above last paragraph. His research was quite limited. T-Mobile offers this to all smart phones. WiFi calling is so that you can make calls inside a building or place where the cell-tower coverage may be weak or inadequate. T-mobile WiFi works all over the planet earth. I was in Moscow, Russia making calls from a McDonald's WiFi to phones in Russia and the United States. You can buy a cheap android phone for $35 NEW! and benefit from this. Compliment this with Google Voice and/or Hangouts and you have a killer phone for a monthly fee of starting at $30 for WiFi (international) and 5GB 4GLTE (US).
  • WiFi? Google Voice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday January 26, 2015 @10:46AM (#48904801) Homepage Journal

    If you only want to make calls over WiFi, then the solution already exists. Sign up for a Google Voice number, then install the Google Hangouts Dialer, and you're all set.

    The potential value-add here is not the voice or texting service, but access to the WiFi network.

  • With WiFi channels being overcrowded, how are they going to achieve reliability?

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