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Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cellphone Plan

Updated on July 28, 2015

There have been many shakeups in the wireless industry over the past two years as each carrier heavily competes to earn the top spot in the market. Now, thanks to New York-based cable and Internet provider, Cablevision, there could be even more changes ahead.

The cable and Internet provider is preparing to launch a new cell phone that relies completely on Wi-Fi for its operation. This would differentiate its service from traditional wireless providers that use a network of cell towers that allow users to make calls, send texts and even service the Internet. This switch could potentially make a huge impact on both the cost and quality of wireless networks in the future.

Historically, cell phones have used networks of cell towers for all their voice and data needs. These towers come together to form huge networks for the major wireless providers that while they provide access almost anywhere, are very expensive to operate and maintain. To compensate, wireless carriers charge their customers high monthly fees to use their services.

Already an increasing amount of activity is being done over Wi-Fi networks that already include voice calls. Individuals can easily setup their own networks in their homes and Wi-Fi is increasingly being offered for free by businesses and other services all over the country. This means that it can be possible to move about your day never losing a Wi-Fi signal. With a Wi-Fi only phone, you would use your own Wi-Fi network as well as other free networks around town to not only surf the web, but also to make calls and send text messages.

The biggest difference that this will make comes in the price of the monthly bill. Cablevision, for example, will be offering its Wi-Fi only phones to new customers for $29.95 and for customers that subscribe to its Optimum Online Internet service the plan will only cost $9.95. When you compare these prices to many of the traditional plans that can cost well over $100 a month there are substantial savings to be claimed by customers who make the switch.

This all sounds too good to be true, right? That all depends on your expectations. When launched, Cablevision will only offer one type of phone for their plans - the Motorola Moto G. Also coverage will be a bit of an issue. While more and more businesses are offering free Wi-Fi, the fact remains that you won't have complete coverage like you would with a traditional mobile phone.

Currently, Cablevision seems to be targeting a specific set of consumers such as college students, children and even adults on a fixed income as mainstream customers simply won't be satisfied with such large gaps in their ability to communicate.

In the future, companies such as Cablevision or even Google could release phones and plans that allow you to connect to Wi-Fi first using the cellular towers as a backup only. This could provide users with the ability to cut back on their monthly cell bills as their phones search out for the cheapest option first automatically for them.

While the shift towards Wi-Fi is still in its infancy, there is potential for these new types of phones to revolutionize the industry as we know it. However, before that can occur, Wi-Fi networks will have to mature in order to provide users a seamless experience where they don't drop coverage just because they turned right instead of left on the road.

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