MNVOs that push Wi-Fi use and have users fall back on cellular data only when absolutely necessary are becoming more and more popular, mostly due to their low price. Google has even gotten in on the fun with their low-cost, dual-network Project Fi. Republic Wireless, who runs on Sprint’s network, was one of the first to kick the movement off, with users only paying $10 for unlimited text and talk, then paying a la carte for data usage. Republic handsets have special software that seeks out any and all available Wi-Fi signal and forces it to be used if available, having cellular data as a last resort. After a number of moves to make Republic stand out, including letting users get a cash refund of unused data, Republic’s newest move is a fairly big change.
They’ve announced they’re adding in GSM compatibility, massively opening up the number of devices that can hit the network. With no word on whether or not bring your own device functionality will roll out with this update, it’s assumed that’s a negative; Republic uses special software to prioritize Wi-Fi and phones brought from other carriers may not have this software or be compatible with it. This is the reason that, for the time being, bring your own device is not supported. At the moment, some users are rocking the Motorola Defy XT from the service’s beta period. The latest Moto G and Moto E are available, as well as the Snapdragon 801 packing 2nd generation Moto X. In addition, they’re set to pick up an undisclosed high-end handset from Motorola, per an executive at CES. There were no hints at which it may be besides that it will be a GSM device, but given their device track record, the high end Moto X Pure is a likely candidate.
Republic’s approach helps to bring down their prices, but keeps them, for the most part, out of the realm of popularity enjoyed by more traditional MNVOs like MetroPCS. Lon France, Republic’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, hopes to change that and make 2016 Republic’s “coming out” year. Currently, Republic boasts “hundreds of thousands” of users and about 150 employees.