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Republic Wireless Takes Hard Stance on Phone Rooting
Insists Custom ROMs Screw up Open Beta
by Karl Bode 09:18AM Thursday Dec 20 2012
Bandwidth.com recently announced a new wireless carrier named Republic Wireless promising unlimited text, data, and voice for an unheard-of $19 a month. How did they plan to reach such a price point for "unlimited" service? The company offloads most of that traffic to Wi-Fi, and initially stated they'd kick you off the network if you consumed too much (Sprint) cellular capacity. After the press and public complained that their "Cellular Usage Index" (CUI) fairness plan was too complicated, the company backed off the idea and promised to offer truly unlimited service.

Click for full size
Last month the company's service entered open beta, allowing users to order the only phone available at the moment: the Motorola Defy XT. As users tend to do -- they've started tinkering with, rooting and installing custom ROMs on the device, something Republic is warning could result in you being booted from the service.

Aside from the usual carrier explanation of wanting to protect the customer experience, Republic says they're taking the hard stance because this is still a beta, and they obviously can't collect service improvement data from users running custom ROMs:
quote:
...when you modify your phone or service, you're missing the point of what we're trying to do. We’ve worked hard to protect the idea that we all work together and that we can share responsibility here. It means doing the right thing for everyone involved--not just what you want to do. We’ve developed this model carefully to make sure it works correctly to provide service for hundreds of thousands of customers. We built Hybrid Calling because we believed you should be getting more and paying less. But if it were cost effective and easy to bring $19 unlimited wireless via cellular only, someone would have done that already.
Customers may not listen either way. Users have felt more justified in rooting phones on carriers like AT&T and Verizon, since they've historically nickel and dimed users through additional "because we can" fees for services like tethering (not built into most phone software anyway). In this case you've got a company trying to actually disrupt the high pricing paradigm with an open beta, so their argument that this is more difficult if you root carries weight.

Note that it's not clear that Republic has actually kicked anyone off network, or could even detect a rooted ROM on their network. Still, the company insists they reserve the right to do so if they so choose.

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topics flat nest 
psiu

join:2004-01-20
Plymouth, MI

Seems fair enough

If you are signing up for a beta cell phone plan, you are undoubtedly aware of their scheme and how it works. Either do it their way or get a phone on one of the big-4 and root it to your hearts content.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Playing Fair

My guess is that their ROMs have spyware, and by playing fair and sharing, they mean they want to track you for marketing purposes. Otherwise, why would it matter to them what if you put a custom ROM on your phone?
bnceo

join:2007-10-11
Bel Air, MD

Re: Playing Fair

If you are part of a beta, you should follow the rules. If they say: once we're out of beta, feel free to tinker, then I'm ok with that.

Users should respect the process. When you're in beta, simply follow the rules of the beta process.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: Playing Fair

said by bnceo:

If you are part of a beta, you should follow the rules. If they say: once we're out of beta, feel free to tinker, then I'm ok with that.

Users should respect the process. When you're in beta, simply follow the rules of the beta process.

I can agree with that.

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable
said by bnceo:

If you are part of a beta, you should follow the rules. If they say: once we're out of beta, feel free to tinker, then I'm ok with that.

I second that.

Users should respect the process. When you're in beta, simply follow the rules of the beta process.


scavio
Premium
join:2001-07-14
Melmac
They don't want people being on cellular all the time or tethering. Their business model won't work if that happens. Sounds reasonable to me.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Playing Fair

So can I be on watching youtube, downloading apps and doing other things that require data usage all the time?

Point is, how and what you use the connection for should not be their concern. If you abuse their network then they should take the needed measures to deter that through throttling or termination.

boogi man

join:2001-11-13
Jacksonville, FL
kudos:1

Re: Playing Fair

actually it is their concern as they are using the how and why data they collect to shape their future choices on plans and pricing.
--
my site

scavio
Premium
join:2001-07-14
Melmac
They don't care how and what you use the connection for as long as it's on the phone. They are selling you a specific service to use on a specific phone with specific software. They don't allow tethering and part of the agreement when you sign up is when you are around wifi, you should use it for data/voice. If you agree to this, you have unlimited service. If that doesn't work for you, then find another service.

I would agree with you more if this was some sort of pay the byte service. If I was on Verizon and paid for 2GB of data, I would expect to be able to use the data however I want.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

Re: Playing Fair

Again, they are providing you a service of data, how you use that data is not their concern. Their ONLY concern should if you abuse the network so no matter how you use the allotted data if it is having a negative effect then they should address it. If it is not, then they should leave you the hell alone.

What about netflix, do you think it would be OK for them to add in their TOS you can't use netflix or any other video service that may use up lots of data? How about Skype or another IM, a service that uses little data but may compete with another product of theirs?

You people that think a TOS is a tablet written in stone are on crack.

They can put whatever they want in there, that does not make it enforceable. Which I believe they know which is why they wont be actively seeking out people to terminate that they think are tethering. If they did, I think they know they will see their day in court eventually and it wont be a good outcome for them or their industry.

You agreeing with me if you were on Verizon is just silly. 2GB of data is 2GB of data regardless of how you use it and how much of a pool it comes from. Which just goes to show that the marketing ploy to get a bigger average return per customer is working. They have people like you snowed into thinking that they cap to protect their network. When the reality is they cap so they can charge you more to use more and it has nothing to do with protecting their network because if you are willing to pay they will let you use as much as you want.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: Playing Fair

said by Skippy25:

Their ONLY concern should if you abuse the network so no matter how you use the allotted data if it is having a negative effect then they should address it. If it is not, then they should leave you the hell alone.

Exactly.
patronanejo

join:2009-09-10
EC2R 8AH
said by Skippy25:

You agreeing with me if you were on Verizon is just silly. 2GB of data is 2GB of data regardless of how you use it ....

The operative part of scavio's example wasn't Verizon--it was the pay-per-byte data plan, genius.

tcg
Premium
join:2003-09-12
Lubbock, TX
quote:
If you abuse their network then they should take the needed measures to deter that through throttling or termination.
Which is exactly what they said they'd do.

bobjohnson
Premium
join:2007-02-03
Orlando, FL
They have WiFi calling and other things that you could screw up by rooting and/or modding. For $20 a month you can't expect much more than what they're offering.
jc100

join:2002-04-10
I'm against tracking users, but the company does require empirical data to build statistical trends. Therefore, being it's a beta and terms are fully disclosed, users signed up for the program. Read the fine print and if you don't like the word, go elsewhere. Republic appears to have a valid argument.
xirian
Premium
join:2003-01-26
Beacon, NY
kudos:1
said by Maxo:

My guess is that their ROMs have spyware, and by playing fair and sharing, they mean they want to track you for marketing purposes. Otherwise, why would it matter to them what if you put a custom ROM on your phone?

Their whole thing is that they can afford to offer it so cheap since when you are on wifi, it goes over the internet. If you replace the software, it won't be able to go over wifi anymore since thats software based. Its that simple. I see no issue here.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: Playing Fair

said by xirian:

Their whole thing is that they can afford to offer it so cheap since when you are on wifi, it goes over the internet. If you replace the software, it won't be able to go over wifi anymore since thats software based. Its that simple. I see no issue here.

I use Cyanogenmod, and I pipe all my data over wifi whenever it is available. It doesn't take special software.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: Playing Fair

but you dont know what they have in the backend of their software nor any of their settings. And by being a CLEC and a huge network provider for Google, they have more than just a software setting that routes to them and their servers.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: Playing Fair

said by TBBroadband:

but you dont know what they have in the backend of their software nor any of their settings.

Which is why running custom built community roms are so important. I know that nobody has spyware, or "you can't do that Dave"-ware on my phone, which nobody has the right to put on MY device. If your business model relies on spying on your customers and pwning their property then your business model is shit.
--
"Padre, nobody said war was fun now bowl!" - Sherman T Potter

»maxolasersquad.com/

»maxolasersquad.blogspot.com

»www.facebook.com/maxolasersquad

joebob32

@bellsouth.net
But are your voice calls still going over WiFi with cyanogen?

PaulHikeS2

join:2003-03-06
Manchester, NH

The carrier is correct here.

Perhaps the only time I will agree wholeheartedly with the carrier, but if they are willing to offer this sort of service for only $20/month, then one ought to follow their rules.
--
Jay: What the @#$% is the internet???

meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
Reviews:
·Charter
·Comcast

Can't Wait

My phone has shipped. Patiently waiting for it to arrive.

Actually, it arrived yesterday only FedEx delivered it to my old address (I moved 4 months ago!) Really? You can't read the label that tells you where to deliver it?
--
Rich. My Website

dcurrey
Premium
join:2004-06-29
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Cincinnati Bell
·ViaTalk

Its the phones memory! mostly

I have been following RW for some time. It seems that most people are rooting to get more free space. As shipped the phone has very little room for apps. They installed a bunch of bloatware like facebook that can't be moved to SD card. People are rooting to get this crap off phone. They are supposed to release an OTA update to help with this but they still claim most apps can't be moved or removed.

Another reason seems to be some backup apps require root access to work correctly.

As long as they don't mess with the ROM itself and hybrid calling is left intact I see no problem with that.

Now someone mentioned tracking that could be part of business model they are not telling us. Not sure but maybe that is why they want all this bloatware left alone.
NefCanuck

join:2007-06-26
Mississauga, ON

Re: Its the phones memory! mostly

Or it could also be that the bloatware is also helping to subsidize the carriers business model.

To my mind, if the carriers TOS for the open beta clearly stated up front that users cannot modify their phone's ROM, then the users are clearly in violation and could, quite legitimately be booted from the service.

If however this was not made clear from the start, then Republic Wireless only have themselves to blame for what's happening as any carrier who offers Android phones has dealt with users rooting their phones for whatever reason they choose to do so.

NefCanuck

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

Re: Its the phones memory! mostly

said by NefCanuck:

To my mind, if the carriers TOS for the open beta clearly stated up front that users cannot modify their phone's ROM, then the users are clearly in violation and could, quite legitimately be booted from the service.

I skimmed through the TOS on their website and did not see anything that specifically prohibits modifying the rom. The only thing that is close is
quote:
You will not (and will not permit Users to):...(v) modify any software included in any Mobile Device(s);
The question then becomes does rooting the phone or installing custom firmware "modify" the software or replace it?
jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Its the phones memory! mostly

Simply put, yes. A rom is software and affects the general functionality of the phone.

Eddy120876

join:2009-02-16
Bronx, NY
Well the bloatware is very very minimal according to reviewers heres one from Phonedog about it:

»youtu.be/86EFbWkCGFE

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Glad I didn't sign up

It's fair, considering that this is still in beta and they are working hard to iron out bugs that they don't want custom rom issues screwing up their testing.

But I'm glad I never signed up with them, I got my beta invite in November, but I let it expire. I usually last a month at the most with a new phone before I root, and install a custom rom. The fact that you could only get the Defy XT which is really old, and not well reviewed, just killed it for me.

I wish lucky to Republic Wireless, I really like what they are doing and I hope they succeed, if they start releasing newer phones and finish their beta testing, I might consider you again. For now I'm happier on a t-mobile mvno with my nexus 4
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

I can't argue with this

I really can't argue with this. Republic has a new product that they're still testing. If they're going to sort out the bugs that doubtless still exist, they need to know what software is and isn't running on their phones. Some people will say that, as long as what they mod doesn't affect the actual cell service, then there shouldn't be a problem. In theory, that's true, but it's impossible to know that a particular mod won't cause problems, even if it doesn't look like it should. Plus, people may not always be completely honest about what they've changed on their devices. For instance, if someone has spotty wi-fi, they might prefer that their phone be on the cell network as much as possible, and so they might find a way to accomplish that. Now the Republic techs are left to wonder why that particular device is hanging onto the cell signal when it shouldn't, and the user isn't likely to be entirely candid about what they've done, so Republic is left trying to run down a bug that doesn't really exist.

As for any software that Republic has installed, I think that, as long as it's subsidizing the service AND it isn't collecting personal information without complete disclosure of what it's doing, then it ought to be left alone. After all, Republic seems to be offering something that's a good value. If people don't want the service, then don't sign up for it.

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Re: I can't argue with this

Agreed, I use custom roms almost exclusively on my phones and while they can be just as stable as stock roms, they can also be buggy as hell and you never know what you may break.
Things that don't seem related often wind up breaking.
It really depends on the skill of the person developing the custom rom and the maturity of the custom rom, even very good developers release roms with fairly big bugs in them at first.

Custom roms don't normally get tested very much before release, they are kind of a long open beta themselves.

Eddy120876

join:2009-02-16
Bronx, NY

I would had sign up for RW

Had I not found Straight talk and the second reason why i didn't jump the gun was because when I visit my family in the Red bank(NJ) The sprint service begins to disappear and that wouldn't cut it with me. Also heres the video from Phonedog.com about RW and Moto defy

»youtu.be/86EFbWkCGFE

NotTheMama
What Would Earl Do?

join:2012-12-06

Said more succintly...

[like Jerry Maguire]: "Help me... help you. Help me, help you."
--
"...but ya doesn't hasta call me Johnson!"
ConstantineM

join:2011-09-02
San Jose, CA

what an objective reporting!

First off, it's really sad they've gotten rid of their Cellular Use Index, which was as easy as it gets, and was very smartly engineered to be based exactly according to costs. Just one more proof that users are dumb, and smart and fair solutions will get you nowhere.

But now, for this to be news that users who have rooted the device, and, presumably, got rid of the hybrid feature, which was the whole point of the 19$/mo price tag, are obviously unwelcome, is just rude. Honestly.

nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·voip.ms
·Charter
·surpasshosting

Defy?

I also have been following RW with great interest. I would disagree with their stance, because they clearly are not subsidizing the phones. I mean, come on - $250 for a Defy XT (a $150 phone)? It's not a total crap phone, but it's no iPhone or G3. When you are paying $100 over retail, you ought to be able to do what you want with the phone.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.

AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Defy?

said by nunya:

I also have been following RW with great interest. I would disagree with their stance, because they clearly are not subsidizing the phones. I mean, come on - $250 for a Defy XT (a $150 phone)? It's not a total crap phone, but it's no iPhone or G3. When you are paying $100 over retail, you ought to be able to do what you want with the phone.

its not the hardware, its the service, and I guess it is tightly integrated.
--
* seek help if having trouble coping
--Standard disclaimers apply.--

Boris

@charter.com

Mostly on board

I'm a Republic "Wave A" beta tester -- now a year in, and on their second phone.

For most of us, the current rooting issue is the limited memory in the Defy XT. A good chunk of that is taken up with non-removable Google apps, which we can't slide over to an SD card, not to mention adding various other utilities that require root access.

From where I sit, there's little interest in defeating Republic's wi-fi priority model, or enabling tethering via cellular. That's not why we signed on for the beta in the first place; if their pricing/service strategy flops, we also lose by being stuck with the existing cellular pricing models. OTOH, we also didn't sign on to sacrifice significant phone or service quality in order to save money.

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable

Why can't some people

Leave well enough alone. It's in beta and some types of people out there just have to push the limits. How about this everyone just chill for a little while let them do their thing and no one abuse them for their thing. I'm sure if this takes flight more phones(newer) are coming etc. etc.

BTW I had no problem with their first set up of no hard limits but if you constantly are an abuser then out you go. Fair enough for $20. Actually wasn't $15 a month originally???

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·Comcast

Republic Wireless softens rooting stance

From a blog post on republicwireless.com
»community.republicwireless.com/b···mods-v-2

quote:
Rooting isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Beyond just warranty and support reasons, there are also other security risks and considerations to take into account. We want you to be aware of these risks. But let’s be clear, republic will NOT kick you off our service just because you root your phone. We will only terminate service if we feel that someone is trying to abuse our service or threaten the network for our community.
So Republic Wireless has clarified their stance on rooting and stated categorically that they will NOT terminate your service for rooting YOUR phone.