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Republic Wireless Clarifies Network Limits For $20 Wireless
Offload More Data to Wi-Fi, Get Higher Cellular Network Limits
by Karl Bode 03:34PM Monday Dec 19 2011
Bandwidth.com recently launched a new wireless carrier named Republic Wireless promising unlimited text, data, and voice for an unheard-of $20 a month. How are they reaching such a price point for "unlimited" service? The company offloads most of that traffic to Wi-Fi, and kicks you off the network if you consume to much (Sprint) cellular capacity. While pretending this is really unlimited wireless service is disingenuous, initial impressions of the service have been rather favorable, though it's certainly not going to be a service that appeals for anyone.

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The company recently took to their blog to further clarify the cellular network usage limits they're imposing on customers and the math they're using to determine whether or not you're being a good network citizen. The company is using what they're calling the "Cellular Usage Index" (CUI) to keep users on their best behavior. Color inside the lines, and you get to stay in the $20 club.

"Republic wireless is as unlimited as your commitment to use Wi-Fi instead of cellular," insists the company. The more data you offload to Wi-Fi each month, the better your CUI, and the more cellular data you'll be able to use.

For example they note that if you don't use Wi-Fi at all in a month your CUI would suffer -- and your cellular network usage would be limited to 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data a month. Offload say 60% of your monthly device usage to Wi-Fi, and you find your cellular limit raised to 1,500 voice minutes, 500 text messages and 1,000 megabytes of data. Users who consume too much cellular data are given three months to get their usage back in line.

There's flexibility, with users being able to use more data and less voice in a given month, or vice versa as long as they stay within their CUI limit. The company's formula equates one megabyte of data to two minutes of voice talk time, or six SMS text messages.

Keep in mind that roughly 80% of the public doesn't even know what a gigabyte is, so explaining these constraints to the average user could be an uphill battle for Republic. The company says they'll offer an easy suite of tools to track usage, and that as wireless rates improve, limitations on cellular use "will inexorably relax." For some people the price point and creative pricing will certainly appeal, but for others the limitations on usage and device selection will turn them off. Either way it's an interesting new option -- assuming you have the time and inclination to do the math.

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glinc

join:2009-04-07
New York, NY

meh

Don't know what's funnier. Holding your phone and searching for wifi or move from one stop to another if you have no service.

tigerpaw509

join:2011-01-19

it's a joke right

Pathetic
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2

Re: it's a joke right

No joke. Can you get a cellular plan for $20 per month that costs nothing when you're at home and, assuming you talk at home enough, unlimited while elsewhere?
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: it's a joke right

said by iansltx:

No joke. Can you get a cellular plan for $20 per month that costs nothing when you're at home and, assuming you talk at home enough, unlimited while elsewhere?

Agreed, for $20/month 1 GB of data and 1500 minutes isn't bad at all.

compuguybna

join:2009-06-17
Nashville, TN
Reviews:
·Millenicom
·HughesNet Satell..
·ooma
·Virgin Mobile Br..
·Charter

CUI index too difficult to understand

I dont like playing games in a wireless world.

this CUI index is crap, and i can't see where a user at any given time could tell how much airtime or data usage they had left.

this is more complicated that the FAP systems used by satellite providers.

THUMBS DOWN for Republic Wireless.

kataan
RIP my love.
Premium
join:2003-04-22
Greenacres, WA

Re: CUI index too difficult to understand

I can imagine that the mathematical equation to what you air time is looks only slightly more complicated than the the quantum theory for gravity.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
You can apparently scam this index quite easily. Just use your phone at home over WiFi network and run non-stop speedtests or file transfers to up the amount of WiFi usage on the phone. This gives you lots of 3g usage over Sprint network based on examples listed in story.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: CUI index too difficult to understand

Don't forget to only transfer within your local network. Otherwise you're using up your ISP's bandwidth cap.
chex383

join:2003-03-13
Montreal, QC

Re: CUI index too difficult to understand

Your wireline ISP transfer cap is many times greater than a typical wireless data cap. I think it can handle it.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by FFH5:

You can apparently scam this index quite easily. Just use your phone at home over WiFi network and run non-stop speedtests or file transfers to up the amount of WiFi usage on the phone. This gives you lots of 3g usage over Sprint network based on examples listed in story.

The article says to a maximum of 1 GB over 3G.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by compuguybna:

I dont like playing games in a wireless world.

this CUI index is crap, and i can't see where a user at any given time could tell how much airtime or data usage they had left.

this is more complicated that the FAP systems used by satellite providers.

THUMBS DOWN for Republic Wireless.

It's complicated, but once you understand it you realize it's a pretty good deal.

Unfortunately your mindless rejection is very likely to be the main reaction among customers.
tivoboy

join:2004-05-10
Menlo Park, CA

great

Honestly, I think this is a GREAT offering the marketplace. Literally 20$ for no limit SMS, calling and data as long as we use a lot of WIFI, like home, office, hotspots, etc. I think this offering is going to even more successful that the current sold out status suggests. This is going to do a lot to cannibalize the boost and metropcs offerings of the world.
ConstantineM

join:2011-09-02
San Jose, CA

Seems very open and honest of Bandwidth.com so far!

I like their policies! They indeed seem reasonable and fair, and very straightforward for the technologically aware population.

One thing to note regarding cellular use:
one megabyte of data is equivalent to
two minutes of voice talk time, which is equivalent to
six SMS text messages
I think that's pretty telling of how the SMS prices are way overblown. Can either send probably around 200 to 2000 SMS messages over the cellular data connection with something like Google Voice, or 6 messages over the standard cellular text-message means? Heh.

scott2020

join:2008-07-20
MO

Re: Seems very open and honest of Bandwidth.com so far!

I like the idea, but public wifi is painful to use in some cases. I have been at many hotels and public areas that require you to log in via a portal before wifi works. It won't be like roaming from place to place on cellular. If you have to accept wifi terms every place you go, it will turn a lot of people off.

techturtle

@72.50.232.x

Re: Seems very open and honest of Bandwidth.com so far!

There are apps in the Android market that will streamline the authentication on public WiFi access points, making it fully automatic in many cases. It's not part of the Republic Wireless package, but with that your phone should be able to use most public WiFi spots anytime you stumble into one, w/o needing to login each time.

NickD
Premium
join:2000-11-17
Princeton Junction, NJ
Reviews:
·Comcast
So according to them, the average text message is 174762.66666 letters long.

With a standard 160 character text message limit, 6 texts are 960 bytes, round it up to a kilobyte after overhead. A kilobyte is not a megabyte. 1 megabyte of data is equal to more than 6000 texts since texts aren't always 160 characters each, they're usually much less.

And I doubt the quality of a voice call is 32 kbps each direction.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Seems very open and honest of Bandwidth.com so far!

said by NickD:

So according to them, the average text message is 174762.66666 letters long.

With a standard 160 character text message limit, 6 texts are 960 bytes, round it up to a kilobyte after overhead. A kilobyte is not a megabyte. 1 megabyte of data is equal to more than 6000 texts since texts aren't always 160 characters each, they're usually much less.

And I doubt the quality of a voice call is 32 kbps each direction.

Yeah I had to laugh at the whole "1 MB = 6 text messages". In what universe does a text message require 160 KB? I think there was an error by a factor of 1000.

aannoonn

@optonline.net

How can this be legal?

quote:
unlimited text, data, and voice for an unheard-of $20 a month
limited to 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data a month
Definition of false advertising.

espaeth
Digital Plumber
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-21
Minneapolis, MN
kudos:2

Re: How can this be legal?

said by aannoonn :

quote:
unlimited text, data, and voice for an unheard-of $20 a month
limited to 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data a month
Definition of false advertising.

See also: Fine Print.
Common to: Every other company known to man.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: How can this be legal?

said by espaeth:

said by aannoonn :

quote:
unlimited text, data, and voice for an unheard-of $20 a month
limited to 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data a month
Definition of false advertising.

See also: Fine Print.
Common to: Every other company known to man.

See also: circular reasoning.

RWConfusion

@comcast.net

Not really "Unlimited"

I believe Karl got it wrong. Read through the complicated formulas and you'll see that more Wifi does not generate more cell minutes/data/txt.

The complicated "CUI" formula hides the fact that there is a "soft cap" of cellular use for all users. Yes, you can exceed it for a few months before getting booted off, but if you're a consistent heavy cell talk/data/txt users, you will get in trouble.

And, no, making a dummy Wifi call all night long won't magically replenish your "cell bucket". If your bucket is empty, the only thing you can do is cut back immediately on your cell usage, to bring your average cell usage in line with what they want you to use.

The overall business model is a sound and simple one: a Wifi centered phone service, with a cell phone backup. But their initial advertisements of "unlimited for $20!", while true in one aspect, won't work for someone who's looking to consume a lot of cellular data/txt/talk.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Not really "Unlimited"

Yes, you're absolutely right. Their numbers are just based on using more wifi, so you get more total, not more cellular. The cellular is limited on it's own, and wifi doesn't count against anything.

This service is going to be great for kids, or people that want a smartphone, but don't have high usage patterns, or can deal with the limits and want better coverage at home.

metroarea

@equinix.net

optimum wifi

If you have cablevision in the NYC metro area this is a no brainer with optimumwifi.

FastDSL

join:1999-08-22
Snellville, GA

service

So far I've been loving my republic wireless service. Def had my first snag today as the service isn't available if the wireless network blocks VOIP and other ports... Most likely because it was a guest network to a hospital.

Still browse and whatever else on WIFI but Calls and SMS go back to Sprint Network. Not a big deal since it's only one day out of seven I am at that location.
chex383

join:2003-03-13
Montreal, QC

Re: service

Do they allow you to connect over a VPN client setup (Android this is trivial to do) inside your phone? You can bypass all local network blocks by connecting to your ( or some VPN providers) network, and always have access to all ports you need.
--
Sung to the old New England Telephone Ad Jingle: " We're the only one New Eng-Lund, Hell-Ri-zon Tele-phonnnnne! "

FastDSL

join:1999-08-22
Snellville, GA

Re: service

Did not even think of trying that. Thanks!
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

Blue State MBAs

Must be the same group that believes you spend your way out of debt.
Even Reed Hastings couldn't "clarify" things worse.

GeekJedi
RF is Good For You
Premium
join:2001-06-21
Mukwonago, WI

Re: Blue State MBAs

said by elray:

Must be the same group that believes you spend your way out of debt.

What??
--
The goal of the broadcast engineer is to get all the meters on the transmitter to go as far to the right as possible!!
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by elray:

Must be the same group that believes you spend your way out of debt.
Even Reed Hastings couldn't "clarify" things worse.

Are you aware the government can print a $16 Trillion proof platinum coin and pay off all its debts in one day?

Or that $1.6 T in debt is held by the Fed, and another $4.5 T is held by the SS trust? So we could pay those off without causing even a hint of inflation.

Your problem is you think "money" is a physical quantity. You want to apply your own "gut feelings" to national or international economics. Only a simpleton goes so far as to reject modern Keynesian economics based on what he wants to believe is true.

The entire Euro situation is proof that the idea of "expansionary austerity" is a fairy tale that, just as in the 1930s, does not work. On the other hand the data clearly demonstrates stimulus spending has been a highly effective method of escaping the recession.

But of course people like yourself, who rely on their "gut feelings" when talking about economics, won't look at the nuanced data to understand why stimulus has been so effective, even in the US.

knighthawktf

@clearwire-wmx.net

horrible

To think I thought clearwire's non-unlimited non-cap caps were bad. Haha this puts them to shame. BTW on what planet does 6 sms messages = 1mb ?
chex383

join:2003-03-13
Montreal, QC

This is so cool!!

As an American living under the strict Canadian wireless data plans, where I have to scrimp and save to watch that I dont go over a very stingy 500MB of data every month, I find This is AMAZING!!! I work -very- hard to always hook my phone up to wireless when I can, and I would benefit greatly from this plan. I would sign up with these guys if I were in the US in a heartbeat.

- Stefan
--
Sung to the old New England Telephone Ad Jingle: " We're the only one New Eng-Lund, Hell-Ri-zon Tele-phonnnnne! "
b_p_smith
Premium
join:2002-02-13
Merrickville, ON

Re: This is so cool!!

Indeed, us mega-screwed Canadians would be tripping over each other to get a deal like that.
slckusr
Premium
join:2003-03-17
Greenville, SC
kudos:1

cool

A great option for those who are near wifi most of their day. and cheap to boot. How much is it to add a landline to your home service ?
staregazer

join:2006-12-15
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

Re: cool

Think about it this way. Vonage charges more and it is limited to a landline. Cable companies charge $30+ per month for their phone service. This service is $20 per month and is great for those that do not make a whole lot of calls while they are away from home. This is a solution that combines home phone and cell service for one cheap rate. Magic Jack is only $20 a year though and Net Talk is only $30 a year.

I think you can use Magic Jack or Net Talk on the smart phone. If you could get data only for pretty cheap and the voice does not take all that much data then that would be the perfect solution. It would give you unlimited calls and text where you have wifi and a lot of calls and texts on data if voice does not use much data.

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101

Hotspots

THis probably wouldn't be a bad idea if someone is already paying for a 3g/4g hotspot already and wants a cell phone plan on the cheap.
zeke56

join:2009-03-22
Naperville, IL
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..

It's not a cell plan

I think people complaining about limits on the cell portion of the plan need to free themselves of the mindset that "unlimited" means "unlimited cell usage". It's not a cell plan. RW is upfront and clear that their service is for "wifi people". To me the service is more like a mobile voip service w/ the added really cool feature that you can access the 3G network for a fairly substantial amount of voice and data use. If you tried to market the service as such you'd probably get mostly blank stares. I can't really say I understand the way they calculate the CUI - they talk about a 7 day rolling average, but all their examples are based on a month - but I think it's an honest attempt to make it simple for people to keep track of their stats.