Republic Wireless is a communication service provider that was founded in 2011. Until this week, it has been a private beta program that had a rather long wait after signup. That all changes now with the program open to anyone who wants to purchase the single compatible phone for $259.
Republic isn’t your traditional cell service, as it offers a $19 per month program giving you unlimited voice, texts and data via Sprint’s nationwide network. Sprint offers an unlimited plan for a costly $109.99 a month. The catch with Republic? It uses a proprietary hybrid radio to route calls, texts and data over Wi-Fi whenever possible. This technology is the reason you can purchase only a single phone, Motorola’s Defy XT. It does not however require any 3rd party apps or Google Voice like integration. Use the phone like normal and it routes the traffic automatically.
During the beta over the past year, there was a somewhat complicated formula for acceptable data usage while on the cell network. Republic has dropped the complicated formulas for usage and has a single statement on usage. “Nobody likes a data hog and we rely on the honor system. As long as you play nice, and try to use Wi-Fi as much as you can, we’ll keep on doing what we do.” A 60% wifi logo is found beside this statement, which one can assume they prefer at least 60% of usage to be on Wi-fi versus the Sprint network.
CEO David Morken told CNET he is confident his beliefs hold up, “The most important thing we got out of the last year of learning was this Wi-Fi-first wireless approach is a strategy that will work and work well.”
The phone itself is not exactly the newest on the block either, with its 3.7-inch screen, 1Ghz processor, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. You can not bring any other phone to work with the service, including any unlocked phones or Sprint specific phones. Contract free and $19 a month seems like it’s worth a shot for someone who doesn’t need the top of the line network or phone.
There are still people who don’t know what to think about Republic Wireless when it first launched, but Morken is out to prove them wrong. “It would be silly for us to pursue this…if it wasn’t going to be a profitable model or valuable to people.”
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Check out this review of republic wireless by Clark Howard on CNN.