Republic Wireless is one of the more interesting carriers out there for a few reasons. The first reason is because the carrier has a definite bias towards customers using WiFi, rather than cellular data, for their use. The second reason is because they like to listen to their customers, which brings to the third reason why Republic might be worth a look: their new plan is a way for the business to fairer price how much data customers are paying for. By fairer, this means better; sometimes, carriers’ claims of a fairer deal seem to work out more expensive for many typical customers. However, in this case, Republic Wireless are at pains to point out three key facts. One is that their members wanted LTE coverage, but only 4% wanted to pay extra. Second, in their words “on average, every single smartphone user is overpaying about $16/month for service they never use” and third, because of this “wireless waste,” if a customer wishes very little cellular data a month (such as 1 MB), they are stuck paying a minimum of around $30.
Republic Wireless are beta testing a new way for customers to better control their data plans, quoting on their website that thousands of members are going to have the chance to help Republic test the new service starting in about a months time on May 18. They’re going to stop charging customers by the speed of the data connection and instead by the amount of data used. Customers will have access to a wide range of data management tools via the Republic website to determine how much data they need, and any extra that has been bought and paid for may, essentially, be returned for a cash refund. Now, we’ve seen the ability to tailor data or even whole packages online before, so this is no great development. But what is new is the ability and willingness to return, dollar for dollar, the value of unused data.
Republic also announced a number of new projects under various names, including “Salsa,” which is a new cellular to WiFi hand-off technology. There’s “Hi-Hat,” a next generation ‘phone and “Bridge,” a means of receiving your ‘phone’s alerts on other Internet-connected devices. Finally, Republic announced “Tempo,” another carrier partner to boost their current arrangement with Sprint and expected to go live in 2016.
It looks as though Republic have a very exciting 2015 lined up. Introducing the ability to successfully hand off from cellular to WiFi is an important milestone, as is the ability to hand back unused data and it goes one step beyond the ability to rollover data. It’s possible that some of Republic’s technologies and ideas will also be used by the new Google MVNO, Mobile Virtual Network Operator, that we are expecting to see more of in the coming months.