Republic Wireless Claims Rooting Devices Abuses Terms of Service

Republic Wireless likes to say that they are "the mobile network that runs on freedom". Some recent dissent from customers who are mad about the company's position on rooting devices may make that motto seem a bit ironic, but the carrier claims they have valid reasons as to why they want to curtail the customization of devices on their service.

Users decide to root their devices for a variety of reasons, ranging from gaining new features to frustration with slow security updates from the manufacturer. Whatever the reason, when a user chooses to root their device or load a custom ROM, they are taking the functionality of the device into their own hands. Republic Wireless, a carrier that still considers its unique business model to be "in beta" recently posted a message to their blog about customization of devices on their service, and the specific reasons they were very opposed to the idea. An employee going by the handle 'jeccaj' laid out the reasons in a detailed and comprehensive manner, but that's not keeping consumers from feeling a little disappointed. From the post:

The burning question these days is whether or not it's ok to root your phone. The short answer is no. You agreed to the Terms of Service when you joined republic, and if you don't follow the Terms, we can terminate your service at any time. But there are a few other things we should unpack for context to make sure you understand where we're coming from.

As we already stated, the Republic Wireless service is still in beta, and as a result the company really wants to keep service as uniform as possible. Uniform service helps the company refine their customer service program, work on common bugs in the system, and make the most use of customer feedback. When all customers are experiencing essentially the same device, features, and service then ironing out the issues becomes infinitely easier than a widely varied device and customer base.

There are quite a few reasons it isn't practical for us to allow you to root your phone. The first of these relates to where we are with the product. We're still in Beta, and our main goal is service refinement. We're grateful for the feedback you've provided to help us find bugs, understand flaws in customer experience and sharpen the service we provide to you and others. We're honing in on the features and focusing specifically on one phone. The feedback you give us is most helpful when we know you're having the experience we designed. We're excited about where we're going together (the forthcoming January 2013 over-the-air software update, for example), and we hope you are, too.

Their second reason is really just a continuation of the original point, that uniformity helps them provide better customer service. Troubleshooting customized devices is considerably more difficult, and sometimes impossible, for their customer service team who are only trained to assist with the vanilla version of the devices they ship out. Like we pointed out in the beginning of this article, all users who make modifications to their devices should assume they are on their own from that point on, because support from your carrier is highly unlikely. Of course, the 30-day money back guarantee is also voided, as well as any other warranty agreement, once you make any modifications to your device. Their final point may be the most reasonable, and it has to do with the type of service they are trying to provide. Republic Wireless is a bit of a departure from your standard carrier, and as they point out providing truly unlimited service across a hybrid service for just $19 a month is no easy task, so anything that can be done to make the process easier is in everyone's best interest.

Lastly, when you modify your phone or service, you're missing the point of what we're trying to do. We've worked hard to protect the idea that we all work together and that we can share responsibility here. It means doing the right thing for everyone involved--not just what you want to do. We've developed this model carefully to make sure it works correctly to provide service for hundreds of thousands of customers. We built Hybrid Calling because we believed you should be getting more and paying less. But if it were cost-effective and easy to bring $19 unlimited wireless via cellular only, someone would have done that already.  Although we value freedom as much as you do, we can't offer you freedoms that put the health of the republic in jeopardy.

In the end, Republic admits that users are going to do what they want regardless of what the carrier requests, and while they don't explicitly state that they will be booting users off the service if they notice they've made changes, they certainly hint around at it quite a bit. They also point out that they are keeping a very close eye on their relatively small user base for any noticeable variations in data usage. User reaction has ranged from an understanding and acceptance of the need for these regulations, to users who are extremely angry about the company's decision not to deride rooting and customization. Are you a Republic Wireless user? What are your thoughts on the company's position?

Source: Republic Wireless

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About the Author

Kody Frazier

Kody Frazier is a freelance journalist focused primarily on mobile technology.