Cablevision may take Freewheel Wi-Fi voice service abroad

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) executives said they may take their Freewheel Wi-Fi voice calling service overseas because the see an opportunity to provide their customers who travel internationally with the ability to make calls.  During the company's first quarter earnings call with investors, Cablevision COO Kristin Dolan said that they are receiving feedback from their customers indicating that they are taking it outside the U.S. "There may be an opportunity there," Dolan said.

Dolan also provided an update on the company's service, noting that it is seeing an "enthusiastic" response to the produce, which made its debut in February.  The service costs $9.95 per month for Cablevision's Optimum Online customers and $29.95 per month for non-customers, and right now works with only one smartphone, Motorola's Moto G, which is available for a heavily discounted price of $99.95.  Dolan did not provide subscriber numbers but said that weekly orders for the product are increasing and said users are typically making and receiving about 20 calls per week using the service and making and receiving about 70 text messages per week. 

She also reiterated Cablevision's intent to invest more in its Wi-Fi network, nothing that the company is overall seeing customers of its Optimum broadband service consuming about 6 Mbps over Wi-Fi every month. "Wi-Fi is the technology of the future," she added, noting that the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January that companies were all talking about Wi-Fi, not cellular. "All new products are assuming a Wi-Fi presence."

In March, while speaking at the Mobile World Congress 2015 conference  Dolan said that the company didn't go the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) route and partner with a cellular operator because it wanted its customers to realize how often they were actually using the company's Wi-Fi network. She noted that wireless traffic analytics indicate that more than 75 percent of wireless traffic is over Wi-Fi, not cellular. "If we just did an app with an MVNO backfill solution, they wouldn't realize what they got," she said.

She also said that Cablevision's Wi-Fi network delivers speeds of about 15 Mbps downlink and 4 Mbps uplink, adding that 92 percent of Cablevision's subscribers have 10 or more hotspots with a mile.

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