Republic Wireless is an interesting new mobile phone carrier. You get unlimited talk time, data and texts for $19/month. The catch is that you can’t do too much over the cellular network, or they will ask you to take your business elsewhere.
Note though, it doesn’t all have to be over WiFi. Their software, which runs on a custom LG Optimus Prime Android phone (part of their $199 setup fee), switches off between WiFi and cellular data automatically.
They provide the cellular access, when needed (my guess is that they are buying bandwidth wholesale from Sprint), but it sounds like you are on your own for the WiFi — no free commercial hotspot access. Also, I haven’t heard great things about Sprint’s coverage or data speeds.
It’s an intriguing offering, for someone, but not for me — I don’t use much voice time on my iPhone. What interests me most is that its an interesting experiment with the mobile phone service business model, which decouples traditional cellular voice service from the underlying data transport. What I’d really like to see is a different twist. Republic claims that you can use 550 minutes of voice, send 150 texts, and transfer 300MB of data before being at risk of crossing their usage limits. That’s probably enough for my wife, who sends a lot of texts, but is usually on WiFi, and its almost enough for me, but I use more cellular data, and both of us like our new iPhones. I doubt we’d be very happy trading them for a second tier android phone.
I am intrigued though!