Republic Wireless

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Republic Wireless
Industry Mobile telephony
Founded January 2010; 6 years ago (2010-01)
Headquarters Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Area served
Continental United States
Key people
Jim Mulcahy, General Manager
Number of employees

Republic Wireless is an American mobile virtual network operator that sells low cost mobile phone service which defaults to Wi-Fi and falls back to Sprint's cellular network. It is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.[1] In May 2016, it added a second cellular network, T-Mobile.[2] Created in January 2010 as a subsidiary of Bandwidth, the company announced it would provide a monthly subscription of $19 per month for wireless service with unlimited calling, texting, and data on a "Hybrid Calling" system.[3][4][5]

Republic Wireless began beta service on November 8, 2011 with the LG Optimus S[6] and later the Motorola Defy XT in July 2012.[7] On November 19, 2012, Republic Wireless ended its private beta and transitioned to an open, public beta.[8]

On November 14, 2013, Republic officially came out of its Beta testing period and began offering the Moto X for $299 with four new service plans starting at $5 per month.[9]

On March 13, 2014, Republic officially announced the release of their next phone the Moto G which will be priced at $149 for the 8GB and $179 for the 16GB version. The Moto G was released for sale on April 17, 2014.[10] Unlike Moto X which offers four service plans, Moto G offers only three service plans. (Moto G does not offer the 4G service plan.) On October 15, 2014, Republic released the Moto E pricing it at $99.[11] On November 26, 2014, Republic announced that they would be offering the 16 GB second generation Moto X for $399 beginning December 10 2014.[12] In July 2016, it adds a new line of Samsung, LG, and Huawei phones to its Motorola line.[2][13]

Hybrid calling[edit]

Wi-Fi networks are used as the primary data and connectivity source to the network, while the cellular network is used as a failover if no Wi-Fi networks are in range of the device. The model relies on a proprietary VoIP application for the Android operating system that has the ability to switch quickly between Sprint's CDMA mobile networks, free roaming, and WiFi, depending on which access network is available.[14]

Republic Wireless's current Terms of Service allow the company to reduce a user's speed for a billing period if they exceeds 5 GB of data while using cell twice during a six-month period. Effective September 10, 2014, a user also may not exceed more than 25 MB of roaming cellular data usage in any one-month billing cycle. Once they reach the 25 MB threshold, they will have no additional roaming cellular data usage during the remainder of the billing cycle.[15]


TechCrunch expressed excitement about the announcement and described the plan as potentially disruptive to the wireless markets. The publication described the "WiFi first" model as an attractive feature because of the prevalence of WiFi access and the superiority of WiFi connections over digital mobile networks, which they expect will improve call reception and clarity.[3] CNet wrote that the low price point would be "a home run" for parents who are interested in low-cost plans for young children.[6] The Atlantic was more hesitant, acknowledging that the price point would be attractive to some consumers but speculating that the low-cost business model may lead to unreliable service. The magazine also suggested that since Republic Wireless purchases its air time wholesale from Sprint, it is dependent on major telecommunications companies who may be inclined to limit the company's growth to prevent it from becoming too disruptive.[16]

PC World questioned Republic Wireless' marketing the plan as "unlimited" given the expectations that users monitor a "Cellular Usage Index" and remain within "fair use guidelines". The magazine faulted the company for advertising unlimited voice and data while simultaneously describing membership as a "privilege" and reserving the right to terminate users who crossed an undefined "fair use threshold".[17] MSNBC wrote that coverage will be unlimited on WiFi access but when on the mobile network, consumers will be held to a monthly limit of 550 minutes of voice, 150 SMS, and 300 megabytes of data or face termination of their subscription.[5] In December 2011, Republic Wireless eliminated this fair use threshold.[18]

ZDNet gave the company a 9 out of 10 star review in November, 2013 saying "You are unlikely to find a phone as capable and priced as low as the Republic Wireless Moto X...the service offerings are fantastic." [19] Republic also received the Laptop Magazine Editor's Choice Award and was cited "one of the best bargains in wireless." [20]

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal gave rave reviews to Republic when they came out of Beta testing in November, 2013 saying this was a chance for callers to get "a top-tier, current-model smartphone with all the bells and whistles, and pay between $5 and $40 a month for unlimited voice, text and data." [21]

Huffington Post said Republic had true "stick it to the man potential" in a November, 2013 piece.[22] The article went on to say "The world needs a place where they have access to first class technology at a very low price ... Enter Republic Wireless."

The Art of Being Cheap claims Republic is "... Such a better deal than any other phone on the market, that there really are no viable competitors" in a November, 2013 piece once the company had come out of Beta.[23]

In April 2014, an article in The Wealth Gospel posited that Republic is "poised to be a disruptor in the mobile telecommunications market," citing that the company offers customers an opportunity to "shrug off the shackles of contracts and high monthly costs." [24]

On November 12, 2013, Republic was voted the Lifehacker Most Popular Pre-Paid/MVNO Carrier with 31% of the vote.[25]

Marguerite Reardon of CNET praised Republic's "cut-throat pricing", especially for consumers who only want voice and text, but faulted unreliable hand-off between Wi-Fi and cellular service, and small variety of available handsets, and said "customers who are having problems with the service never actually get to speak to a real human". [26]

In March 2014, Republic Wireless CEO David Morken said the number of customers subscribed to the company's service totaled several hundred thousand.[27][28] In 2014, it was the top-rated prepaid cellphone provider in the latest rankings by Consumer Reports.[29]


  1. ^ "Republic Wireless". Republic Wireless. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  2. ^ a b David Ranii, "Raleigh-based Republic adds cellular network, new phones", The News & Observer, May 11, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Kinkaid, Jason (November 8, 2011). "Republic Wireless Officially Unveils $19/Month Service: Unlimited Everything, No Contracts". Tech Crunch. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  4. ^ Newman, Jared (November 8, 2011). "Republic Wireless: $19 per Month for Voice, Text and Data". Time Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Chansanchai, Athima (November 9, 2011). "'Unlimited' Android for $19 a month -- as long as you're on Wi-Fi". MSNBC. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Broida, Rick (November 8, 2011). "Republic Wireless: 'Unlimited' Android phone for $19 per month". CNet. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Republic Wireless Further Disrupts Wireless Market; Reopens Beta & Introduces New Motorola Android™-powered Smartphone". November 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Republic Wireless mobile phone service exits private beta, now available to all". Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Republic Wireless® offers Moto X for $299 and four new plans starting at $5 per month, scaling up to $40 per month with a 4G data option.". November 13, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Moto G is heeeere!". April 17, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Moto E Is Here!". October 15, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The New Moto X is Coming Soon!". November 26, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Coming this July! Get the leading Android™ phones at Republic."
  14. ^ Segan, Sascha (November 8, 2011). "Republic Wireless: It's All About Wi-Fi". PC Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Greenfield, Rebecca (November 8, 2011). "Good Luck With That: A Super-Cheap Phone Challenges Big Companies". Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  17. ^ McCracken, Harry (November 8, 2011). "Republic Wireless, You Have a Strange Definition of 'Unlimited'". PC World. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  18. ^ Brian at Republic Wireless (December 22, 2011). "Unlimited". Republic Wireless. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Smartphone With Wi-Fi Smarts". The Wall Street Journal. 
  22. ^ McNay, Don (November 26, 2013). "Republic Wireless: Game Changer in Revolution against AT&T & Verizon". Huffington Post. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Republic the Most Popular Pre-Paid Alan Henry
  26. ^ Is Republic Wireless too good to be true? by Ask Maggie,
  27. ^ Scott Moritz; et al. (2014-03-03). "Wi-Fi alternatives threaten cell carriers". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  28. ^ Lauren K. Ohnesorge (2014-04-02). "Bandwidth CEO talks Republic Wireless, Motorola and jobs". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  29. ^ David Ranii, "Republic Wireless ranked tops by Consumer Reports", The News & Observer, November 20, 2014.

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