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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Long Term Review: Republic Wireless

In my earlier review of Republic Wireless, I mentioned that I would likely give up the phone and return it and switch to Ting instead. Well, I ended up not doing that. The phone is slow, it's got wide variance in battery life --- in normal usage I'd end the day with 40% of the battery, but some times for no apparent reason I'd drain the battery by 8pm.

At my new job, however, I have no desk phone, but excellent wifi, which meant that the wifi calling feature that Republic Wireless offers is what I depend on day in day out in order to take and make phone calls from the office. While those calls aren't as often as you might expect, they still happen on a regular basis, and usually when they happen I need to take them, rather than have them go to voice mail.

The unlimited data has also come in very handy over time --- given the size of web pages nowadays, even a few minutes of surfing can run well over 100MB of data, which would pop you over to the next tier on Ting. Given that I occasionally walk to work (a 30 minute journey each way), having access to data means I can stream wireless music or use TuneIn to pick up KQED or other radio station, which has been very nice whenever I do walk to work.

Most people aren't as cheap as I am when it comes to phone plans, but $19/month unlimited voice/data/text is almost too good to be true, and I for one hope that Republic Wireless succeeds in their quest to change the way cell phones work. For most people in Silicon Valley, I'd venture to say that Republic Wireless' plan would be exactly what they want. I can't wait for them to introduce better phones and I for one am surprised that such a game changing startup is happening outside of Silicon Valley.

Highly Recommended.


b1-66er said...

thanks for this...I'm looking at switching over from boost (also sprint, but without other network roaming).

how much do you TXT and what are your experiences with SMS and MMS on this device/plan?

Piaw Na said...

I use Google voice.

b1-66er said...


thanks for publishing my post (as well as your lightning-fast response).

poking around a bit more, i found this list of caveats associated with using RW (originally taken from their user forums) ... even if you decide not to publish these, they might be interesting for your own edification.

1. MMS is not supported – this means no sending pictures/videos/audio clips by text.

2. Short codes are not supported – those are the interactive texts to 5- and 6-digit numbers, like for paypal/facebook/netflix confirmation, “Voting” for your favorite reality tv show contestant, promos from your local coffee shop.

3. No Text-to-Email gateway – these are often used by alert systems to send a text to

4. No account suspension – other services offer a vacation hold. Nothing like that exists here.

5. Your number cannot be changed – if you move to a new area, RW does not change your phone number.

6.No tethering – the phone cannot be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

7. If you “root” your phone it will void your warranty and RW will not support it any longer. You cannot return a rooted phone under the 30 Day Guarantee.

8. Dialer cannot be programmed to accept a “pause” or “wait.”

9. Cannot change the amount of ring-time before the call goes to voicemail:

10. No international dialing. Calls may only be made to the US and Canada

11. No porting of a Google Voice number to Republic.

12. Republic is a VOIP provider, not cellular. When attempting to port out from RW, it is considered a landline, which may limit options.

13. No transferring of phones to new users or splitting/combining of accounts. No sales of service, though selling phone hardware is OK

14. No BYOD.

15. No services in Hawaii, Alaska, or New Hampshire. (Phones will work there, but no local numbers, and you can’t register order a phone to be shipped to those states)

16. Voicemail has no “envelope” information and very few features.

17. Voicemail notification is not delivered if phone does not have cellular service.

18. 911′s caller id will be the underlying Sprint number unless the call is over wifi

19. No X11 number can be dialed, other than 911

i did some additional reading on your 'blog ... we have a surprising amount of overlap ... i lived and worked in the valley for 25 years developing some projects that ultimately became big deals and you've definitely used ...

i was fed up with the rat race, and raw staggering expense of the valley and threw it all in when the housing market crashed three years ago ... paid cash for a house in vegas ... 14 months from now i would have paid the equivalent amount in total cash (including all taxes and fees) that i would have in my santa clara apartment. (and i don't have to pay state income tax.)

kayaking the length of the MS river later this summer.

i've written a best seller -- but you'll never review it ... not that you should.

such a small (ideological) world. good luck in your pursuits.