A new cell phone plan, from a new company called Republic Wireless, was launched today. The plan features. “Unlimited” calling, texting, and data, for $19 a month.
Republic Wireless referrers to their system as “hybrid calling”. In the same way a hybrid car switches from electricity to gas when needed, their system switches between Wi-Fi and a cellular network.
According to Republic Wireless, the average caller is within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot 60% of the time. Smart phones purchased through Republic Wireless will use a Wi-Fi connection for the call when a hotspot is available. When a hotspot is not available, calls will travel through Sprint’s nationwide network.
Republic Wireless only has one phone model available for its network at this time, the LG Optimus. The phone will cost $199, which includes the first month of service. They offer a 30 day moneyback guarantee. To continue service after the first month costs $19 per month. No contract is required, and they guarantee there will be no overages.
While the new plan sounds interesting, and the idea of switching between Wi-Fi and cell service innovative, we will have to wait to see if customers will be satisfied with call quality. Brian Dally, the general manager of Republic Wireless, introduced the new calling plan on his blog and said “republic wireless is in beta, and like most startup teams, that means we need to ask for your patience. We’re working hard to make everything perfect. Even so, we may let you down along the way. If we do, let us know.” This might be interpreted as a warning that quality may be inconsistent, at least to start with.
We also discovered that, though the service is promoted as being “unlimited”, Republic Wireless does have a “fair use” policy. Using more than 550 minutes of calling time, 150 texts, and 300 MB of data, while on the cellular network, will trigger an alert to the customer, warning them about the fair use guidelines. Users continuing to go over the “fair use” guideline will be contacted by Republic Wireless, and… according to their site, they will “help you find a more suitable, traditional cellular carrier.”
The service can be used throughout the US, but Republic Wireless requires that a user’s home includes a Wi-Fi network.
While in beta testing, the number of members Repulbic Wireless is allowing to sign up is limited. According to their website, republicwireless.com, as of November 8, they are currently taking orders. However, “due to overwhelming demand,” they cannot guarantee a date on which the phones will be shipped. They are currently estimating that it will take 30 to 60 days for new members to receive their membership startup package after placing an order.