A review from a user on Republic Wireless, a relatively new wireless carrier that uses WiFi to offload your phone calls and text messages, reducing costs and passing those savings off to you.
Background On Republic Wireless
Republic Wireless is a wireless services provider started by the VOIP provider BandWidth. They differ from your common wireless providers by understanding the concept that anything the cell network can do, the internet can do better. They save you money by offloading as much as they can, including phone calls onto your wifi connection. This reduces their costs and they pass that onto you.
As of 12/28/2014 their plans are as follows:
|Unlimited talk, text and data on WiFi only.
|Unlimited talk and text on cell and WiFi.
|Unlimited talk, text and 3G on cell.
|Unlimited talk, text and 4G on cell.
You can jump between plans twice a month on their website at the click of a button, allowing you to jump on 4G when you’re going to some big city for a conference and will be pulling a lot of data, but fall back on 3G when you’re at home surrounded by WiFi you use often and your own computer and internet.
The biggest thing I worried about up-front was dead zones. Well it’s basically Sprint when you’re on the cell network, so nothing new for me there. Coverage was a bit spotty but I never was unable to make calls, data usually suffered poorly in these places though. All the same problems I had when I was a Sprint customer I have now when I’m on the cell network.
However at work, there is a funny dead spot that affects all of us… well, did affect all of us. Now two of us are on Republic and we tag on our guest wireless to make phone calls, so while we have Verizon and Sprint people having to move around the building to find cell signal, us Republic users are strong phone and texting over WiFi.
First call I make I’m on wireless, nice and clear (relatively), arguably better than when I’m on the cell network. Walked on the other side of the house where my WiFi is spotty without thinking about it, after my call Republic had a message for me “Congratulations on your first WiFi to cell transfer!”, I honestly didn’t even notice.
When I’m on cell, again I notice no difference from Sprint’s network. Of course this is all “by ear” and phone quality is garbage as-is (when compared to higher quality VOIP services such as TeamSpeak).
Account Management Tools
The account management UI on the site is simple and easy to use and offers a few fun reports on WiFi offloading. Everything is consistently clean and minimal, without the need for a ton of additional text, details, and ads for other services plastered all over the screen as is common with other carriers.
Their mobile app leaves a lot to be desired, I can’t access billing, orders or my overall WiFi offloading, but is receiving improvements so we may see those sometime. Recently detailed data usage has been added, showing you how much data is being used on various networks including wireless, cell and roaming, and by what apps. Very useful.
|Data + Minutes
$59.98/month in savings, I pay for my cell phone in 3 months.
Now for the bad news, Republic Wireless currently only offers 3 phones. The Moto X (just releasing the 2nd gen), the Moto G (1st gen) and the Moto E. The reason for this is that they have to put their own calling software on the phone to handle their WiFi offloading technology.
If you’re looking for a specific phone (or anything not Android) you’re out of luck for the time being. I think the range of phones offers a decent choice in features and prices, but I can see if you have your heart set on a phone you may be locked out of Republic Wireless.
I hope they consider porting their system to Cyanogenmod, opening up for unsupported phones that you can hack onto their network.
Also, Republic Wireless doesn’t subsidize your phone cost, so you’ll be dropping anywhere from $99-$300 on a new phone when you hop on Republic Wireless (used phones are available too at discounted rates).
Unless you need a specific phone or can’t deal with Sprint’s towers, go with Republic Wireless, you’re throwing money away if you don’t. If you’re currently on Sprint you’re dealing with their spotty towers AND not taking advantage of leveraging WiFi, stop doing that to yourself and get on Republic Wireless.
Looking at my bill and my early cancellation fees (yours may be different), I should have dropped them months ago and hopped on Republic Wireless for a massive savings by now.
I’ll come back after probably 6-12 months and update this on anymore findings…