New carrier offers unlimited service, no contracts or overages for $19/mo

By on November 9, 2011, 7:30 AM

Tired of restrictive contracts and costly overages? Republic Wireless is too. The newcomer has busted onto the scene with a service that is currently unmatched by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. For only $19 a month, the company says it can provide smartphone users with unlimited voice, data and text without lengthy commitments and hidden fees. The catch? For most users, there isn't one.

To eliminate the expense of maintaining pricey cellular networks, Republic Wireless utilizes a hybrid calling technology that sends communications over Wi-Fi whenever possible -- and that's pretty often. The company reports that mobile users are around Wi-Fi about 60% of the time. If you happen to be outside the range of Wi-Fi, your handset will still have conventional WWAN connectivity (via Sprint).

The "unlimited" part isn't entirely true, but it's not untrue either. If used as intended with Wi-Fi, Republic Wireless should theoretically provide you with all the communication you desire. However, while the carrier won't slam you with overages, there are limits imposed on your cellular account. You get the equivalent of 550 minutes, 150 texts and 300MB of data, but those numbers aren't precise.

Your non-Wi-Fi footprint is calculated with a "Cellular Usage Index" (CUI), so there doesn't seem to be a limit on any given traffic type. In other words, your usage patterns are irrelevant as long as the sum of your activity doesn't exceed whatever CUI the company deems "fair." If you surpass that threshold, you'll receive tips on how to reduce your consumption, but again, there are no fees or speed caps.

The service is currently in limited beta and Republic Wireless only offers the LG Optimus. You can't transfer your existing handset, either. The company plans to add more phones in the future (send recommendations to The Optimus along with your first month of service will cost $199 plus tax, which is refundable for 30 days. Subsequent months are only $19.

There are some other details worth noting. While domestic roaming is free, there's no international cellular support. Wi-Fi should let you call from anywhere in the world to the US, but Republic Wireless isn't open to international customers yet. You'll require approximately 80kb/s to chat with someone over Wi-Fi, so low-end DSL connections might be iffy when you factor in other network traffic.

User Comments: 8

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Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

I hope this works. I'd like to see the phone companies knocked down a few pegs.

tehbanz tehbanz said:

Exactly darkshadoe, if anything this might cause other carriers to "reconsider" their price structures/overage fees/bandwidth caps! if it comes around my area i'll take advantage of it.

And the phone is nice too, i have an optimus and once it was rooted/custom rommed it improved like 50% over stock awesome stuff!

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Isn't this like MetroPCS or Virgin Mobile? The only reason a lot of people from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint don't go to MetroPCS or Virgin Mobile, is mainly because of call quality and handsets. What really sets this company apart? Until they sell some high-end smartphones or maybe even the iPhone, I don't see why would people consider switching, seeing as you can't even transfer your current phone to their network.

Scshadow said:

Too many restrictions to me. I side step the rules and I have an HTC inspire running on at&t service towers contracted to straight talk. $45 for unlimited everything although word is your account gets flagged if you go over 2 gbs of data. I get H+ data speeds(which face it, it is the best service you'll get outside of any large cities and in all honesty is plenty fast to give you a smooth experience/chew through your data cap. I'll be lucky to get LTE within the next 5 years).

But, its better off to use anything except the overpriced services direct from the big 4. They need to quit the contract crap, price the services properly, and make people buy phones outright. If you can't afford a phone, you can't afford phone service. Its something the government should have made them do a long time ago.

treetops treetops said:

You can buy the no-contract phone for $99 through November 27 with the promo code "welcome19" before the price goes back up to a standard $199.



MilwaukeeMike said:

Scshadow said:

They need to quit the contract crap, price the services properly, and make people buy phones outright. If you can't afford a phone, you can't afford phone service. Its something the government should have made them do a long time ago.

I don't think they'll ever quit contracts. The 'low buy-in' / 'high fees' model is very popular. Gillette made a killing selling cheap razors with expensive replacement blades.

A cell contract allows the carrier to project their cash flow for the next two years. They can easily see what their guaranteed income will be for months into the future and can plan spending/promotions/new towers etc on those numbers. I don't see them giving that up. People prefer the 'deal' of a cheap awesome phone with a higher monthly fee.

Can you imagine if a phone was $400, but the monthly fee was $20 and the sales person had to explain the present value of future cash flows to a customer to prove that they were actually saving money?

tonylukac said:

No one seems to even have $20 to their name anymore. I'm sure they bought their phones with credit cards too. Haven't essentially raised minimum wage in 30 years; the standard for all wages, I guess. I would prefer the $400 phone and $20 a month. Ooma even offers free (except taxes) landline phone service like that for $200 one time and it's popular.

Guest said:

Sounds like a creative idea to the phone contract problem. I wonder how long it will last?

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