In the last few days, the company dropped a bombshell on the cell phone universe by announcing that it plans to pay its customers for their unused cellular data (Republic Wireless Announces Industry First: Plans That Pay Customers for Unused Cellular Data).
Can you imagine any cell phone provider making such an offer? But such dramatic developments seems to be the norm for Republic Wireless. This is a company that’s determined to become a disruptive force in the industry – and that’s good news for consumers. Here are the details.
Table of Contents:
The New Plan
In response to my review, I received this summary of the carrier’s new plan from Cherie Gary, of Bandwith, the parent company of Republic Wireless:
- First time any carrier will repay customers for unused cellular data. A credit penny for penny on the next month bill.
- All current customers will be grandfathered in and if they don’t want to change, they don’t have to. Republic will do a lot of education to help all customers figure out the best plans for their usage.
- Republic Labs participants notified today, trial starts in May, we anticipate 4-8 weeks in labs, and GA thereafter (GA = general announcement?).
- New carrier – can’t confirm carrier publically today – hopefully soon – their requirement, not ours. Will begin trialing phones on this carrier later this year with GA expected early next year.
- Multi-devices is really cool – your calls/texts/video chats etc. on phone, tablet, smart TV, etc.
She also added that this is not about Republic eliminating its unlimited plans.
The Press Release Announcing the New Plan
Officially, Republic Wireless disclosed the upcoming changes in a press release issued on April 20th. They indicated that they are currently beta testing new plans that will repay customers for the unused cellular data each month. The purpose of the plan is to help customers purchase just the amount of cellular data that they truly need. Once in place, the new plan will mean that 80% of Republic Wireless customers will pay the same or less for their service than they do now.
The company sees this as “completing the circle” by rolling out reverse handover of calls from cellular to Wi-Fi without interruption. This is a consumer-driven program, since customers have indicated that they want control over how much cellular data they buy.
“Over eighty percent of our customers use less than a gigabyte of cellular data a month,” Bandwidth and Republic Wireless CEO, David Morken said. “It’s been estimated that current industry plans cause consumers to waste an average of $200 per year in unused cellular data. We think that’s ridiculous. So we’ve devised a way to pay customers back penny for penny for unused cellular data every month.”
He also added a promising note: “Contracts and early termination fees are dinosaurs from the past. As of today, cellular-first approaches and overpaying for data will be as well…”
In addition, the company will begin customer-driven beta tests of new features and products which will include:
- Cellular-to-WiFi handover – Republic has refined seamless WiFi to Cell handover over the last couple years so calls don’t drop. In the reverse, the company has begun real-world trials with customers on seamless cellular to WiFi handover.
- Next-gen mobile phones – Customers will test which phone Republic launches next.
- Seamless multi-device communications – Republic will begin testing the ability for customers to access calls and messages from any device including tablets as well as laptops and desktops.
- Multiple carrier cellular networks – Republic will also be adding a second cellular carrier partner joining later this year.
Clearly, Republic Wireless is a company that’s initiating fundamental changes in the cell phone industry.
What Republic Wireless Has Already Done to Change Cell Phone Plans
Apart from the announced plan to pay customers for unused cellular data, Republic Wireless is already a different kind of cell phone provider. They already offer contract-free service, some of the lowest priced plans in the industry (seriously, as low as $5 per month), the ability to change plans twice per billing period, and a 30 day money back guarantee.
But at the core of the Republic Wireless strategy is Hybrid Calling Technology. This is the foundation on which the service is built, as well as the reason for its flexibility and low price structure.
Hybrid calling technology makes use of both cellular data and WiFi, but with the greatest emphasis on WiFi. The basic idea is that cellular data is expensive, but Wi-Fi is cheap. And now that Wi-Fi is available in so many places – it’s already used by smart phones – Republic Wireless is emphasizing it as the primary connection for its phone service.
Basically, the service runs on Wi-Fi, but will default to cellular data only when Wi-Fi is not available. It can be used for both calls and texts, as well as for surfing and sharing. The company offers specialized phones that can switch back and forth between cellular and Wi-Fi.
Prices for Republic Wireless plans range between $5 and $40 per month.
This company is clearly moving to change the industry. Given that the cost of the service is relatively inexpensive, that you are not locked into a contract, and that the company is on the cutting edge of cell phone innovation, this is a service that is well worth trying out. The rest of the industry will no doubt follow their lead, but in the meantime the future is now at Republic Wireless.
Will the plan to pay you for unused cellular data convince you to give the service a try?