It's been a quick start to 2013 for CED Member Bandwidth's subsidiary company, Republic Wireless. They're attempting to disrupt cellular carriers nationwide, by offering a service that requires no contracts and costs as low as $19 per month.
A week ago, the company announced that Republic Wireless would implement the Bandwidth.com API, giving Republic Wireless "increased flexibility in reserving inventory in markets favorable to our customers," according to Jim Mulcahy, executive vice president and general manager at Republic Wireless.
This week, the world's most well-known tech gadget reviewer, Walt Mossberg, wrote a piece for the WSJ's AllThingsD, reviewing Republic Wireless, calling the sole phone used with the service "mediocre" and stating that the service "doesn't deliver the best voice quality." In a word, Mossberg described the call quality as "adaquate."
There are positives, however, most namely, the price of the service. Republic Wireless announced on Tuesday a dual pricing structure, only available online at www.republicwireless.com.
Option 1 - Buy the Motorola Defy XT for $249 and pay just $19/ month for unlimited service.
Option 2 - Buy the Motorola Defy XT for $99 and pay just $29/ month for unlimited service.
"Both plans have the same unlimited service, no contracts, with a 30-day money back guarantee," said Noreen Allen, chief marketing officer at Bandwidth.
Unlimited service means: unlimited voice, data, and texts. According to Republic Wireless, Motorola will be offering customers a $50 credit to the Google Play store.
Republic Wireless can offer these low pricing plans because of its unusual technology approach, which relies on its customers using the phone primarily when they're able to access a wireless connection. For calls and data usage when wireless isn't available, the service uses the Sprint cellular network.
The company was also reviewed this week by Edward C. Baig at USAToday. Baig reports positive interaction with the service, articulating that he "was able to run several Android apps, including Angry Birds, Slacker, Quickoffice and YouTube."
Baig's largest issue with the phone and service appears to be when attempting to use the phone in-motion, say, on a train or in a car. If you begin a call on Wi-Fi, reports Baig, but move to a cellular area, the call will be dropped.
Bandwidth and Republic Wireless call this the "escape hatch." In this scenerio, the call is automatically ended and the number redialed over the cellular network.
Republic Wireless is working on a solution, though it is important to note that this use is not how the company is betting its core customer base will utilize the phones.