Save Money With a WiFi Phone
Would you give up cellular phone service if you could still get unlimited voice, text, and data? How about if it costs $20 to $50 a month less than “unlimited everything” plans from major cellular carriers? Read on to learn how…
What's a Wifi Phone?
Free or cheap mobile calling with WiFi? Yes, it’s possible right now, but it’s not for everyone. The trick is to use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and ambient WiFi connectivity instead of cellular networks. Before your eyes glaze over, let me translate that: As long as your smartphone can connect to a WiFi network, you really don’t need AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile, or any other mobile service provider.
Ah, there’s the rub: WiFi isn’t available everywhere, yet. But many people have WiFi at home and at work, where they spend most of their time. Public WiFi hotspots are common in urban settings; just check out OpenWiFiSpots to see how common they are.
So a WiFi-only smartphone is a practical tool for most day-to-day circumstances, so long as you keep in mind that you will only be able to make or receive phone calls when you're within range of a WiFi network.
Cablevision thinks the WiFi phone market is big enough for a cable TV and Internet services provider like itself. It also thinks $29.95 a month is a reasonable price for its new Freewheel WiFi-only mobile service. ($9.95 if you’re already a Cablevision Optimum Online customer.) After all, unlimited talk, text, and data costs $50 on T-mobile and $60 on Sprint. AT&T and Verizon don’t even offer unlimited plans.
Except that Republic Wireless charges only $5/month for the same thing: WiFi-only unlimited talk, text, and data. Republic also has plans, ranging from $10 to $40 per month, that provide Sprint cellular connectivity when WiFi isn’t available.
The catch is that you must buy a phone from Republic; other phones don’t contain the special circuitry that makes this WiFi/cellular magic possible. Cablevision’s WiFi-only service will work with any WiFi-capable phone.
WiFi-Only or Hybrid Mobile?
I am betting that Cablevision is not the only major player who will enter the WiFi phone market. CenturyLink/Xfinity and Comcast are establishing networks of public WiFi hotspots throughout their territories. CenturyLink/Xfinity seems to be paying local businesses to host its public hotspots. Comcast is doing it by the controversial method of using customers’ routers to carry public traffic on separate circuitry in the router. Supposedly, there is no degradation of the customer’s Internet experience nor any way public hotspot hackers can access a customer’s private WiFi network.
Telcos and cable companies are taking to the streets in pursuit of ever more mobile customers. If you subscribe to Cablevision Internet at home, you can get it downtown too via Optimum Online’s WiFi hotspot network. WiFi phone service is just another enticement to use Cablevision.
But to achieve the kind of backup cellular service that Republic Wireless and other small players are offering, cable companies and local phone companies will have to partner with major cellular networks. I wonder if such enormous egos can play nicely together.
For now, if you live, work and play within range of WiFi hotspots, a WiFi-only phone makes sense. For those times when you can't connect to WiFi, voicemail will handle your incoming calls, but you won't be able to make outbound calls. If you need "always-on" phone service, it's not a good choice.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 2 Apr 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Save Money With a WiFi Phone (Posted: 2 Apr 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved