A company called Republic Wireless (Facebook), is launching an unlimited $19 a month plan for text, data, and voice service for phones. Republic says it can offer these low rates because its phones use a special ‘Hybrid Calling’ system that relies on Wifi whenever possible. It falls back to cellular connections when Wifi isn’t available and automatically hands off between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
You need Wi-Fi at home to join and their service expects users to fall within their monthly guidelines. Go over that and you could loose access to the inexpensive service.
Assuming 0% wifi usage you could consume 550 minutes, send 150 texts, and download 300 megabytes of data without crossing the community’s fair use threshold.
It isn’t for everyone. Over time, if you don’t bring usage into their range, you could be cut off. The company says you’ll be reminded of the guidelines and to what extent you’ve crossed the fair use threshold. We’ll provide you with tips for reducing your cellular footprint and plenty of opportunity to get back on track.
Republic is not using the Kineto technology, according to GigaOm. That standard uses Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) for automatic switching from WiFi to cell. The Republic user experience won’t be quite as seamless. At the moment users will hear a tone in the middle of a call signaling the change in networks, but the call will continue.
Bandwidth.com, which provides the VoIP backbone for services including Google Voice and Twilio, is behind the alternative mobile carrier. Their initial wholesale cellular partner is Sprint, but Republic is said to be working to use other carriers as fallback options as well.
Users will need to buy a modified version of the LG Optimus, running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Customers will pay $199 up front for their first month of service as well as the specialized phone. You can knock $100 off the price and sign up for $99 if you use the promo code “welcome19″ and sign up by November 27th. That’s with no contract — there are no termination fees.
If you have home WiFi, this could be a pretty good deal. You’ll need about 80kbps both ways to hold a call. The more bandwidth the better for improved call quality.
In other news, Verizon is now offering customers buying a new 4G smartphone a choice of “double data” plans — users will get twice as much data for the same price the carrier had been charging.
Verizon clarified some misconceptions since word of the new plans cropped up on Monday.
- All customers who buy a 4G smartphone are eligible.
- You can keep the plan for as long as they stay on a 4G smartphone. “Limited time” in this case refers to how long Verizon will keep offering the double data plans to new customers.
- For existing customers, only those who have upgraded their service or bought a new 4G smartphone within the last 14 days are eligible to switch to the double data plans.
The promotion applies only to Verizon’s 4G smartphones, and not other products such as tablets, USB air cards or mobile hot spots.