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Wi-Fi-Based Cellphone Plan Announced By Major Carrier

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This week New York-based cable and Internet provider Cablevision made quite a stir within the telecommunications industry when it announced it launched a new cellphone service that will exclusively use Wi-Fi to make calls. A few current carriers, such as T-Mobile, already offer Wi-Fi enabled calling with some of their plans, but Cablevision would be the first major service provider to do away with cell towers entirely.

"Cablevision recognizes the growing shift to Wi-Fi-driven consumer electronic devices and services," said James Dolan, chief executive officer of Cablevision. Dolan went on to say that the new service is the "next leap forward in the advancement of the connected lifestyle."

Not to be outdone, Google also announced plans to begin offering its own Wi-Fi-based calling service recently. Though a concrete start date has not yet been announced, the company believes it could begin to offer service as early as this year.

Cablevision's service, known as FreeWheel, will be available for $29.95 a month with no annual contract, and existing customers who subscribe to the company's Optimum Online Internet service will be able to access the plan for only $9.95 a month. There is a catch, however. The service is only available with use of the Motorola Moto G Android phone, but Cablevision will sell the device at a discounted price of $99.

The Rapid Shift To Internet Calling

Traditional mobile carriers use networks of cell towers to provide service for making calls, sending texts and searching the Web. Such networks are widespread, creating seamless connections but causing maintenance and operation prices to skyrocket for carriers. To cope with such high costs, service providers charge customers larger monthly fees to make up the difference. Cablevision's new plan would do away with that and rely solely on the nations network of Wi-Fi hot spots. The company currently provides its customers with access to more than 1 million hot spots.

FreeWheel is capitalizing on the fact that a growing amount of mobile phone use is occurring on Wi-Fi networks instead of cellular ones. A large majority of the population has Wi-Fi in their homes and businesses are increasingly offering Internet access for free to employees and customers. Utilizing IP telephony solutions is the future of the enterprise, allowing companies to move away from high fees from service providers and hardware maintenance.