Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tech Column: Unlimited Wireless Phone for $19 a Month (No Kidding)

by Bill Adler

Republic Wireless is the cellular phone company you probably haven’t heard of, but if you’d like unlimited voice and data, this is the cellular phone company you should take a look at: www.republicwireless.com.

With Republic Wireless, unlimited means unlimited. Voice and data. Really. How does Republic do this? Should you switch to Republic Wireless?

Republic Wireless is able to accomplish this amazing feat of giving its customers unlimited voice and data by using both wifi and cellular networks.

Republic uses Sprint’s cellular network when there is no wifi. The hand-off between cellular and wifi is instantaneous and invisible; there are no special buttons to push or settings to change, once you’ve added a particular wireless network to your phone. Wifi calls are made just like regular calls -- you can’t even tell when you’re using wifi or cellular.

You may have seen smartphone apps that let you place calls over wifi. These usually require a second phone number or require that you launch that app, which makes using the internet for voice and data a bit of a pain. These apps also eat into your cellular data quota pretty fast.

You can’t use your current phone with Republic. You need to purchase a special smartphone from them, an LG Optimus S Android, for $199. If you spend too much time on the cellular side of their network, Republic will let you know. How much cellular is too much? The “cellular footprint” isn’t a fixed quantity, but Republic offers this guideline: “Even assuming 0% wifi usage, for example, you could consume 550 minutes, send 150 texts, and download 300 megabytes of data without crossing the community’s fair use threshold.”

Republic Wireless likens its phone and service to that of a hybrid car: Sometimes you’re using gas (cellular), and sometimes you’re using electrical power (wifi.)

Republic Wireless offers a 30 day total money back trial.

Is Republic Wireless, www.republicwireless, the right cell phone company for you? If cutting your monthly cell phone bill down to $19 a month (plus tax) is high on your list and you’re near wifi a fair amount, then Republic is worth trying. You’re don’t have a choice of phones, but this is an Android smartphone on which you can install apps from the Android market, www.market.android.com. So while you are limited to this one phone, the phone itself isn’t limited. Because Republic uses wifi as well as cellular, they’re able to offer features that traditional cellular companies can’t, such as the ability to make and receive calls outside of the United States -- for free. (This feature is coming mid-2012.)


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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