Dec 24 AT 9:37 AM Anthony Domanico 79 Comments

Republic Wireless has the potential to become huge, needs better devices

Republic Wireless

We want to love Republic Wireless, the new cellular company owned by that wants to revolutionize a U.S. cellular industry that is in desperate need of a rethinking. Republic Wireless sees the powerful potential of a widespread Wi-Fi network, and assumes people are able to connect to Wi-Fi networks at least 60% of the time, which means these customers should be able to make phone calls, send text messages, and consume data primarily over Wi-Fi, with a cellular network available as a backup for those times where you’re not connected.

Because most consumers will use Wi-Fi a lot of the time, Republic Wireless can contract with the currently existing cellular networks for sharing agreements. Republic Wireless currently has a sharing agreement with Sprint, allowing Republic Wireless users the opportunity to use Sprint’s nationwide 3G network when not connected to Wi-Fi.

When Republic Wireless originally launched, they held customers to a Cellular Usage Index, which gave Republic Wireless the power to boot customers off their network whose cellular to wifi usage ratio was too high (after some usage counseling, of course). Earlier this week, Republic announced that they have dropped this requirement, and would offer a truly unlimited data, text, and talk plan for only $19 per month.

Though this option is very appealing for some, Republic Wireless’s significant drawback thus far is the lack of devices. Customers are required to use the entry level LG Optimus smartphone, which though it’s certainly one of the top entry-level devices out there, lacks the power and polish of the current high-end smartphones. And no, you can’t use your current smartphone on Republic Wireless’s network, as they currently have to build the ability to use Wi-Fi calling into the ROM/Operating System on their phones.

When we provided our first impressions of Republic Wireless a few weeks ago, we asked you what questions you’d like answered about the upcoming service. We’ve selected as many as we can, and have attempted to answer them to the best of our ability below.

How does Republic Wireless handle the transition from 3G to Wi-Fi to make calls?

This is actually the biggest drawback I’ve found with Republic Wireless so far. Currently, the transition of calls between networks is a mess, though Republic Wireless promises they are working on a seamless transition between networks. Currently, when I was on a phone call and stepped outside of a Wi-Fi coverage zone, it would hang up and call the person back immediately. Hardly an ideal solution, especially for important phone calls.

Will Republic Wireless be offering better devices in the near future?

As I indicated earlier in this post, Republic Wireless is planning to bring better devices to their network, though I wouldn’t expect them to get the highest end of device available today. Even if they did, you would be shelling out a significant amount of dough for these phones, which retail for $500-700 on contract.

How’s the call quality over Wi-Fi?

The call quality over Wi-Fi was actually pretty good, as long as you had a good connection. When I had a fair, good, or great connection, the call quality was fantastic. When I had only a poor connection, calls were muffled and folks on the other end had a very hard time hearing me.

Would I recommend Republic Wireless?

If you can live with the entry level LG Optimus smartphone, then going with Republic Wireless is a no-brainer, especailly with their recent move to shed the cellular usage index limitation and become a truly unlimited service. Also, I can’t wait to see what phones they offer next, and would even likely shell out $600 for a phone that will save me $1,200 over the life of the 2-year contract I would have with a traditional carrier.

As far as I can tell, Republic Wireless only has two drawbacks: the phone, and the way it handles transitions between 3G and Wi-Fi. Fortunately, these are two areas that Republic Wireless has promised a solution for, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with when they come out of beta early next year.

If you’re interested in putting yourself on the sign-up list, head over to Republic Wireless’s join page to get your name on their distribution list.

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • stenzor

    Good luck to them!

    • lxgeorge

      They’ll need it in todays cutthroat wireless industry, although their service might just be creative and cheap enough to give them success. I hope they become big cause if they do then they’ll probably start offering better smartphones, and they’ll have a customer of me for sure.

      • Jorge Eslava

        I don’t mind having a LG Optimus since I do mostly everything on my tablet, as sson as they start accepting more people I’m joining.

        • Andy_jr

          Yes, the Optimus should be good enough for most people. I am seriously considering getting a line just to see how well the service works. The more alternatives, the better.

      • Jarman Sample

        Triniti Communications is much better.

        Sample Freedom!

        • That Guy

          Shitty Link, now go f yourself

  • zyphbear

    Personally I think once they have some decent devices, they are going to start kicking butt. Virgin should keep an eye out for them!

    • AppleFUD

      I know I would use them if I could use an unlocked device like the GNexus or the Galaxy Note. I rarely need cell reception other than gps in my car from time to time and the rare phone call when I’m out and about. I’m generally around cable internet 99% of the time.

      • EwanRGR

        This is exactly why I went with a Streak 7 4G. For one price I get data and “voice” courtesy of Groove IP and Google Voice. Even can tether my larger tablet or laptop when a 7 inch screen isn’t enough. I ended up with a Tegra 2 device for less than $300 and no contract. Compare that to an Atrix and other phones with similar specs, smaller screens, and at twice the price.

        I would love to see Republic or someone else offer a tablet with multiple radios so you really could flip services. Heck if they setup the roaming agreements right, they could route your call to whichever service would give them the best price at that time based on how utilized the towers were, etc. A real win-win there. Now can someone go out and actually make that happen!

  • dclaryjr

    I must be part of the 40% because the only time I’m on WiFi is at my house or at McDonalds.

  • azulpiscina

    Hope this type of “carriers” become greater, and maybe see then wolrdwide…

    • zerosix

      No, they should be exclusive. When big carriers come to this idea, it won’t take long for them to find, how to count minutes, messages, bytes of data and so on.
      So I just hope, that this type of carrier comes to every country, but stays quite unknown, so that big carriers don’t notice them.

      20 bucks per month for absolutely unlimited everything! Tears on my eyes.

      • Kahuna

        Your tears must have blinded you when you got to the price. It’s not $20 a month it is $19.00, and not $19.95 or $19.99 which you assumed it must be because that is the way most sellers sell their stuff.

        It is just an honest $19.

        • Adam Clark

          Plus any fees and taxes.

          • Wowsers

            Who advertises taxes? They are different in each state.

  • psipher

    Sounds like an interesting concept, though I had a couple of concerns that I couldn’t find answered on their website:
    Does it keep WiFi on all the time…are you able to shut it off in areas without WiFi to save battery life?
    Do you specify which WiFi networks to connect to…or does it try to connect to any random open WiFi it finds?

    • RRR

      BTW, my Wi-Fi is ON all the time and this saves battery. It sounds antiintuitive but there exist perfect explanation for that: WiFi transmitter is much less powerful while much faster which saves your battery redirecting your data traffic from 3g/4g

      As to chosing which network to connect and when connect-disconnect even good old and great Tasker app doing that, so RW will implement this key for its function i am sure too

      • TaoRenCe

        I think that would also be my major concern. Until the next generation of battery technology becomes widely available, power consumption would definitely be a major issue for me.

    • DementedAD

      -As of right now, you can switch wifi off at your discretion and I have heard of no plans to change this functionality.

      -In terms of connecting to open wifi, I can’t really find any way that this phone treats connecting to wireless access points any differently than any other Android phone would.

  • DroidPower

    Just by looking at how frequently Republic Wireless updates their progress shows their commitment to make this work. I think we’ll see really fantastic devices by mid 2012 if they’re still around. The real challenge is getting their special software to work on the best devices, which is hard since new phones come out every few weeks.

    • AppleFUD

      Don’t you think an app that launches when Android is loaded would be enough?

      I really don’t see why they need to integrate it into the ROM. After all the service is really going after people that want to have a better/cheaper carrier experience and expect to use WiFi–I think an app should be able to handle that without the need to customize the ROM thus the gNexus would be good–they wouldn’t have to bother with updates, customers get a great device that is always updated and they just need to focus on one app.

      I don’t know though. .

  • keridel

    Surely the device isnt important? Just buy an unlocked sim free device?

    • Arturo Castro

      Since they use sprint as a back up, idk think an unlocked sim would work.?

    • redraider133

      Since it uses sprints network that wouldnt work. Sprint is cdma.

    • Kahuna

      I’m afraid it isn’t quite that simple. The good people at republic wireless take a stock phone (currently it is the LG Optimus S) and modify the software so that the phone can operate as a wifi-priority hybrid smartphone.

      I know a little bit about the service, having followed it since the launch day and receiving my phone just yesterday.

      The phone, while not up to the quality of an iPhone, is perfectly serviceable and, at the republic wireless introductory price, a very good value…as is the service at $19 a month, of course. And there is no contract.

  • rutgers2k

    Google should just roll out nationwide free wifi, whats the hold up google.

  • MoSDeeb

    This is a great start for what hopefully becomes the norm in the wireless industry.

    My wish is for carriers to become dumbpipes and for devices to be operable on any network. Just a dream for now…

  • Deeds

    Good for consumers, the market needed a few more good options.

    • Cwalden21

      Yeah this will be a big plus once they get everything working a great option for us college students as well!

  • OpenIntro

    How soon until the geniuses over at XDA create a Republic Wireless ROM for my SGSII?

    • lostsync

      Yeah, i was just thinking that both of these problems sound like things the ROM community would enjoy helping out with. Open sourcing their Optimus mods might be a good move for them.

    • Joe Show

      I was wondering that myself but what if you’re using a T-mobile version? You may have the rom to utilize their proprietary app to gain wifi but what about Sprints 3G signal? I think they should make more deals with say AT&T and such and just release the code

  • redraider133

    Hopefully they can get better devices and offer another alternative for some. The more competition the better.

  • dafi81

    IMHO It can be great in the US but in Europe prices are already cheap.

  • ramenchef

    Hopefully they hit critical mass in terms of customers and become sustainable.

  • peter p

    For the price might even be worth it to get a phone for the home office.

  • ArticulateFool

    I’m always happy to see a new competitor in this industy. Especially one with a new idea.

    I wish them the best of luck.

  • PacoBell

    What the heck are they doing with that crappy handover mechanism?! 802.21 has been a standard since 2008. Did they hit some kind of implementation snag with Sprint?

  • staryoshi

    I’m always happy to see more competition in the mobile carrier market. It is in dire need of a shake up. I wish them and their customers the best of luck.

  • Shawn Flanagan

    Republic Wireless has a brilliant business model. I hope they are able to use it to their advantage with better phones.

    If I wasn’t currently locked into a contract, I would definitely give them a shot. Hopefully by the time my contract ends, Republic Wireless will have better phone models to choose from.

  • Marcus

    I think Republic Wireless has the potential to be huge. The only drawback for me would be the phone. I don’t think I’ll be able to survive with an LG Optimus. Lol.

  • clintphare

    I am excited about what the future may bring for Republic. If they only offer one phone I dont see an issue. The trade off would be worth it. Kind of like the model A Ford or the VW Beetle.

  • sunrise

    Connection to locked wifi networks could be a hassle. I’m assuming the phone doesn’t just automatically connect to new locked secure wifi networks on it’s own, you still would need the password to the network, which for some not so tech savvy people could be a confusing process. I’m sure it stores and learns common networks in memory, but adding new network passwords out and about on the go could really be a hassle for some people.

    What about networks that require login via a website? Some networks, such as many universities don’t use a normal method of access to their wifi, instead you must achieve network access via a website. Same with many libraries. I wonder how that would work.

    • PacoBell

      Secured networks are supposed to be more difficult to connect to for everyone, not just neophytes. That’s the while point. Fortunately, you usually only have to authenticate yourself the one time and the phone should remember your credentials. This is the way the world works if you want to access private resources. People better start getting used to that. My primary concern is how voice and data are handled over UNsecured networks. I’d hate to think I’m compromising my privacy just to save a buck.


    hopefyllu this wil put pressure on the bigboys

    • Dan13

      Maybe lower prices too if a lot of people ore hopping on board. Or perhaps the return of unlimited data plans… I’d worship Republic wireless if they became successful enough to force the major carriers to do that. :)

  • 94wolfpack

    What would keep the bigboys from offering a similar service? This just a software solution?

    • PacoBell

      To put it simply: greed. They want to charge you for minutes. Anything that threatens that business model isn’t going to sit well with them. Sure, they could charge for minutes consumed over wifi as well, but more competitive pseudo-carriers like RW would eat them alive.

      As an aside, does voice/data get tunneled to Sprint’s “core network” like UMA on T-Mobile? Otherwise, what differentiates this device from, say, Google Voice and a cheap prepaid provider?

      • tric

        what cheap prepaid provider?

  • jamal adam

    “the mobile network that runs on freedom” – i like that slogan lol. Hopefully once they get going and start improving they will compete well against the big 4.

  • Donald Williams

    They sound like a great alternative to Cricket. You have to remember they are starting out and I think they started out with a decent phone. 20 bucks. Might have to think a bit harder now…

  • userx

    So is this why my sprint 3G service has completely shit the bed? On top of iPhone users only having sprint 3G?

    Detroit doesn’t have sprint 4g coverage, at all.
    I guess ill be paying an ETF, just to go to a carrier that actually has use-able internet.

    Thank you sprint for charging me an extra 10$ a month for a [now obsolete] 4G service that never was received, delivered, or used, ever in the time span of my agreement. I look forward to not donating to your next effort, of trying to catch up, again.

    i don’t watch, or care for NBA (or nascar) either, so i hope my future carrier at least puts $$ where it can be useful.

    • Guest

      First of all it’s a smartphone fee that is keeping unlimited alive not a 4G fee.

      The so called “sheepple” on the Now network still uselower data compared to the average Android user.

      Good luck with the other carriers cuz you donating to the bloat ware they add that you could give a rats ass to also. I hope you lost your grandfathered AT&T/Verizon grandfathered unlimited data lol

  • rashed rab

    hope my luck gets better. 1 more day to go….

  • assbeard1013

    Wow I will definitly keep my eye out for Republic. $19 seems too good to be true. $38 for 2 lines is crazy. I pay close to $200 for 2 lines for Sprint’s Unlimited.

    • Doctor Who

      I pay $99.98 excluding taxes etc. for two lines unlimited everything with T-mobile. I realize my data gets throttled after a few gigs but that actually has been no problem at all.

  • cb2000a

    I already use wifi calling with my T-Mo Sammy Exhibit 2. When the transition thing is worked out and the phones are better this will be huge. It would decrease the need for the gobbling up of bandwith that Verizon and ATT are doing right now….it just makes sense.

  • GeauxLSU

    I think once they are out of beta testing they will offer more devices. At this point, they are best to only offer one device for them to have to troubleshoot problems in the beta program.

  • chabuku

    Get a Nexus device and they will have tons of customers.

  • mvndaai

    I think this is what I am getting once I am out of contract, but that is still more than a year off. If only they had released before I would have gone straight over.

    True though, I wound want a bigger, faster phone.

  • WlfHart

    I can’t wait for them to bring out more devices… if they start bringing out the latest and greatest phones, like mentioned in the article, $700 for a phone on a contract that will save me $1200 over the two years I’d use that phone… no-brainer!

  • Dave

    If they can get a decent mid-end, high-end (preferably) Android Device, I will switch even with my contract still currently in tact This is a perfect solution for me. I mean even if eventually they had to up the price of their plan to accommodate for their “Truly unlimited” model, like $10-$15 more, ,I would still even still see myself switching to them. I can afford that, that’s fine. & I also would have no problem shelling out $300-$500 for a good device with them. I hope they can do like Boost & offer some nice mid-high ends from Sprint @ reasonable prices. I can see them using Sprint currently available devices & all of them being Android, I just have the feeling. Epic 4G would be a nice start. But, maybe considering you can only use 3G, that might not happen. The LG Marquee would be great.

  • nivekkev

    One high range fone, one mid-range fone and one low-level fone to cover everyone who might consider their service, and only 3 fones to worry about upgrading.

    • pryvateid

      That’s a great idea, & people wouldn’t have to worry about or get aggravated about, “Hey I just got this phone & a few months later they put out an upgraded version of what I just bought.”

  • Diego Leon

    Wouldn’t it be cool if they just provided the rom so it can be installed into any CDMA phone? I would totally sign up if could. I have a few sprint phones I wouldn’t mine using.

  • Stalte

    Ok ill bite whats the catch? Oh Sucky devices………..hmmmmmm……. I think once they start making some money we will see some high end devices (hopefully). Right now the GNex is worth shelling out crazy amouts of money to Verizon each month

  • yankeesusa

    This wireless service is worth it for a lot of people that don’t mind having a low end android device. Example: my wife. She is still rocking the lg lotus to avoid the $10 fee from sprint, although even with the $10 fee sprint is still cheaper then most. But either way the lg optimus is a decent phone if your not into the dual core thing. This company has a lot of potential. Imagine they get a samsung gs2. That would be awesome!

  • JonnyP

    Thank you for this article, it’s clear and succinct and tells me everything I wanted to know about whether or not I should be looking closer at Republic.

    As soon as they iron out that network transition kink and start offering Nexus phones (or at least nearly-AOSP phones) I’ll be kicking Verizon to the curb.

  • staryoshi

    Republic Wireless isn’t a viable alternative for my smartphone usage, but I love to see new competitors enter the market and wish them the best of luck. Each new company that is able to carve out a niche of their own or create compelling competition for existing companies will bring benefits, direct or indirect, to consumers.

  • Paul Speese

    If they have sufficient funding to improve the wifi-cellular transition and a broader selection of handsets they are going to be very successful.

  • Jarman Sample

    sorry guys. Bad Link, try this one.

    Sample Freedom!

    • tric

      pricing sucks.

    • That guy

      Shitty link, go f yourself

    • Nel

      Why do you insist in that link ? Don’t you know how to make comparisons, specially prices ? Don’t waste people time posting links or topics that don’t go with the discussion. People is desperate trying to save time in these forums and you are preventing them to find solutions. I hope in the future, the justice system will bring some punishment for people like you.

    • Nel

      I am afraid Republic belongs to Sprint and the catch is just that Sprint and LG wants to get rid of that phone. I hope I am wrong for the benefit of the people who is tired of the tyranny of corporations.

  • amin maknojeea

    Are you accepting agent to sell your wireless service, If so then what are the condition , I would like to srell your service inside the mall.

  • amin maknojeea

    Are you accepting agent to sell your wireless service, If so then what are the condition , I would like to sell your service inside the mall.

  • Tom V

    I have been with Sprint for many years and was reluctant to switch since I was getting a 25% discount through my work, but I was tired of their poor customer service and barely use any of the data that’s on my plan (got really annoying when I was forced to pay an additional 10 bucks) when I’m still using my old Blackberry Curve 8300. I never had any complaints with the service though. rarely dropped calls and I had reception wherever I would expect it. With that said, at work I have zero reception.

    However I do have wifi at work of course and with almost all my calls are being done at home or at work Republic Wireless works out great for me. When I’m outside a wifi hotspot, the old sprint network or verizon kicks in and I have even better coverage than before. Many say the phone is “old” technology, but that’s all about perspective. I mentioned my old bberry, so I feel the Defy XT is a huge upgrade for me. If you use my referral link, we will both save $19 when you sign up. My link is:

  • Sam Milton

    Coupon/Promo Code $19 off when you signup.