Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republic Wireless: Testing a New Type of Cell plan!



Let’s face reality, your cell phone is here to stay.  Everyone has them... well, almost everyone.  We actually had ours get cut off, because we couldn’t afford it.  We didn’t have iPhones, or even “Smartphones,” with the expensive data plans.  In fact, I think I am the only person in my IT department that doesn't have a smartphone of some sort.  The plans are very pricey and even the “cheap” ones would run us up to $100 a month plus taxes between both A’mee and me.  So we are actually cell-less for the time being (and that has taken some real getting used to). 


A couple weeks ago I was on Engadget and saw something that really turned my head… a beta program for Republic Wireless.  They were offering a new type of prepaid service that highlighted an “unlimited everything” plan for just $19.95!  OK, they had my attention!  Like any other prepaid program, you have to buy the phone.  I signed up on the website to get news about the launch, which was scheduled to happen about a week later.  I then got an email offering a discount code for their phone (the LG Optimus) for just $99.00, saving $100 off the top.  So we made plans for the launch day to sign in and get two phones and test this service, since this was right around when we were expecting to get our money in.  Being a beta test, I knew it would have some bumps, but wow.

The site went up and down all day.  Apparently, the site received well over one million hits the first day.  I don’t care who you are, that will crash just about any server around.   We were finally able to sign in, and we got our confirmation emails shortly afterwards.  Hers was from Republic Wireless, but I was confused when mine came from Phonebooth.com.  After checking the forum, I found out there was a transaction issue that caused a number of orders to be routed to a sister company by accident.  I sent a message over, but their communication is a bit spotty right now.  I honestly believe they got absolutely hammered.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are pissed off that they didn’t get instant shipments.  The forums are full of trolls right now.  Luckily, you can easily see the patient ones who are saying, “I am surprised they are still trying to work through it all.” 

Yesterday, we got our promised updates.  A’mee got an email stating that she was in the beta and to stay tuned for her ship date (since they have to prep the phones manually); my e-mail stated there was an “issue” with the transaction, and I have a slot in the beta, but not in the first batch like A’mee.  I am frustrated by it, but I am trying to be patient with them. 

So that drama aside, here is how the plan works….

You get a phone loaded with their software.  They have partnered up with Sprint to offer the cell coverage side of the plan.  The main focus of the plan is based around Wi-Fi.  They are asking users to primarily connect via Wi-Fi, since there are hotspots just about everywhere most people go, be that work, home, Starbucks, or even McDonalds.  You are monitored on your usage, and they have what is called the “Customer Use Index” or CUI:   an app on the phone that will help track your usage between cell and Wi-Fi connections to help keep you on track. There is a catch, and for some it may be a deal breaker:  If you go over the cell allotment too often (stated in forum posts as being for several months in a row, etc.) they can actually cancel your service with Republic.   Personally, I don’t see that to be an issue.  We have Wi-Fi at home, I have it at work, and most of our usage will be with texts, but even then, it won’t be hard to stay within the cell tower usage.  So we wait for our phones.  The hardest part for me is that I am pretty sure A’mee will get hers well before I get mine.  The beta is slated to run for at least the next 60 days, so we will see how it goes.  I will be updating as soon as there is anything worth reporting.    I just know that even with any cancelation fees we pay to get out of our contract, we come out ahead with the drastic reduction in the monthly plan.  

Check out their site or find them on Facebook or Twitter for any other information.  I am really excited about this, being as how this is not only cheap, but they are also going to be our first smartphones.  

2 comments:

  1. Glad you two are trying this so I can get the scoop without the hassle:). We are one of the crazy few that don't have a cell phone, but Dean would really like one, so we've been considering a prepaid one. Looking forward to hearing how this works out for you!

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  2. Last night I got the email saying my phone will be shipped Dec. 15, so I guess it will be a while before I can report back. Oh well!

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