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Republic Wireless Delivers $19 Wireless
Driven by Wi-Fi, With a Few Massive Caveats
by Karl Bode 10:55AM Tuesday Nov 08 2011
Republic Wireless, a division of Bandwidth.com, has jumped into the wireless game with a new no-contract service they hope turns a few heads. The company today officially took the wraps off a new $19 a month service, which offers users unlimited text, data, and voice. How are they hitting that ridiculously low price point? The company is using something they're calling hybrid calling, the service using Wi-Fi networks by default -- and Sprint's network if no Wi-Fi networks are available.

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The catch: use too much actual cellular data and the company indicates they'll boot you as a customer. According to the company's website, they consider a "fair use threshold" to be around 550 minutes, 150 texts, and roughly 300 megabytes of data. Cross that too frequently, and they'll tell you to take your business elsewhere:
quote:
The best way to know how you're doing is by checking out your Cellular Usage Index (CUI). If it's too high, we'll let you know and give you tips to bring it down. You have plenty of time. But meanwhile, you still pay a flat fee of $19/month no matter what. Everyone’s entitled to a bad day, week or month. Kicking the cell habit, however, isn’t for everyone. Membership here is a privilege. So, over time, if you don’t bring your CUI back into a reasonable range, we’ll help you find a more suitable, traditional cellular carrier.
While it's a somewhat shifty stretch to advertise this as really "unlimited," it's an interesting plan all the same. Device selection isn't particularly robust at the moment either, though the company insists selection will improve. For now the company is only offering users the the LG Optimus running Android 2.3, for $199 with no contract, or a discounted rate of $99 through November 27. Despite the limitations there's a niche here to be targeted, and it will be interesting to see just how disruptive this offering is.


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