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11/8/2011
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Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan

The company sees Wi-Fi connectivity as a way to reinvent the mobile carrier price structure.

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In an era when many smartphone bills in the U.S. approach three figures after data and text charges are added and consumers clamor about bill shock, Republic Wireless has a radical proposal: A form of cell phone service with unlimited data and text messaging for $19 per month.

The no-contract plan requires customers to pay $199 for an Android-based LG Optimus smartphone, which includes the first month's service fee. It includes unlimited talk time, text messages, and data. However, it is "unlimited" in the mobile phone sense of the word. If you're using the service without a Wi-Fi connection and rack up a lot of cellular data usage--the company suggests that 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 MB of data would be close to the limit--you will receive a warning about being a bandwidth hog. Extreme resource usage, in other words, could get you kicked out.

Republic Wireless is a mobile network startup is based in Cary, N.C., and is owned by Bandwidth.com, a growing telecommunications provider, or CLEC. The company can provide such low rates because it expects most calls to be carried over Wi-Fi networks, in customers' homes and elsewhere. It requires customers to have access to at least one Wi-Fi network.

Calls get carried by Sprint's cellular network only when a Wi-Fi network isn't available. According to Republic Wireless, most people are around Wi-Fi networks 60% of the time. Whether those networks are accessible, not to mention secure, is another question entirely.

The company likens its model to the way that hybrid cars use electricity some of the time and a gasoline engine at other times.

While call clarity and network reliability can't really be assessed until the service has been up and running for a while, Republic Wireless says it has received a phenomenal response based on the price of its offering.

"Demand has blown us away--we've always talked about this as a movement, not just a product, and it's happening, for real," said Brian Dally, general manager of Republic Wireless, in an email. "We're also flattered. We have a lot to live up to now. We frankly didn't expect this kind of reception, which speaks to how acutely people feel the pain."

[ Find out about how telecom carriers have been forced to deal with "bill shock." ]

Dally says he can't predict how other carriers will respond but he believes that his company's attractively priced offering will push the industry in a direction that's better for consumers.

"We're inverting the status quo here," he said. "Wi-Fi networks should absolutely be the primary network, and cellular networks will become the back-up network when you are on-the-go. This drastically reduces the costs for consumers, but gives them the freedom to use their phone however they want. To be honest--cellular is scarce and very expensive, and it's going to be difficult to match a $19 per-month unlimited membership for network operators burdened with billions in investments that they've got to recover somehow."

Dally argues that Republic Wireless is helping to bring about the freedom of choice in wireless carriers that consumers have been asking for. "Now that we're moving the industry in that direction, we certainly expect others will have to move in this direction as well. We think that's good news for everyone. It has a democratizing effect on the market--which opens up opportunities for new innovation and more choice for consumers."

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JSTEVENS139
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JSTEVENS139,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2011 | 7:34:48 AM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
How do you figure it is SPRINT'S fault? They are not offering the plan. They are just selling bandwidth to Republic.

Blame Republic. They are the one whose website says "Check back November 8" and still says that on the 11th.
MWILLIAMS000
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MWILLIAMS000,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2011 | 7:00:07 AM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
On Nov 10th, 2011 - went to Sprint store to inquire about the service. Sprint manager fresh from a manager meeting did not have a clue. Never heard of the company or the service, even though its all over the internet. As a previous Sprint customer I thought maybe the second time will be a charm? Silly me ..should have brought toast and jam because I felt egg oozing down my face
again. Thanks Sprint for anticipating that enthusiastic customer(s) might inquire on what appears to be a decent value proposition.
dwarren981
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dwarren981,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/10/2011 | 9:10:55 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
So, when will the carriers providing the wifi networks start charging for carrying Republic Wireless' traffic? In the end its not free, somebody has to pay for the service.
Sr Happy
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Sr Happy,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 8:29:54 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
yes, but you need a constant 80Kbps to keep your call quality working. If you're at a hotel with heavy traffic, you might not be able to use their wifi to make a call.
Sr Happy
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Sr Happy,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 8:28:09 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
The author is saying that if you connect to an unsecure network (eg. at home), then your call could be intercepted and others could listen in on your conversation. By default, an Android device will ASK you if you want to join a network in range. It does NOT automatically connect to any unsecure network it finds. And if you do tell it to connect to a network, you have to tell it that it's ok to automatically connect the next time the network is in range.

Of course this doesn't mean that you couldn't connect to an unsecure network without permission, but that's no different than any other wi-fi device on the planet.
virthddman
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virthddman,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 7:52:05 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
Will be interesting to see if the company will make it with its beta plan in tact.

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Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
11/9/2011 | 7:23:19 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
Over 150 texts is a bandwidth hog? Is there a missing zero or two?
JWest778o2
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JWest778o2,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 6:08:21 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
I cannot adequately express the disappointment with my experience with Republic so far. Having pre-registered with you, followed up with the website when asked, and wasted a huge amount of my time checking back many times an hour for a day and a half - until 2 am last night and starting again this morning at 7 am. How this was handled strains credibility and faith in what you posted on your website. Even if you were briefly taking orders, this was poorly handled. Self inflicted black eyes are not an auspicious way to launch a new service.

This "Lucy and the football" approach to signing up will not wear well. Nobody wants to start off the relationship with a new service being made to feel like Charlie Brown.
sewoodson
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sewoodson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 12:36:34 PM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
Wouldn't this be like using the Wifi Networks for our tablets or wifi eReaders?
SR000
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SR000,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2011 | 5:49:56 AM
re: Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan
Nice Post, Thanks for sharing this info
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