Raleigh-based Republic Wireless offers cheaper service, new phone

dranii@newsobserver.comSeptember 19, 2013 

Republic Wireless, which made a splash with its innovative and low-cost smartphone plan, is unveiling a smorgasbord of new monthly plans and a spiffy new phone to go with them.

On Thursday, the Raleigh-based company is announcing new plans that will be available in November and range from as low as $5 a month to as high as $40 a month. Each of the four new plans is being offered with Motorola’s new Moto X smartphone, which costs $299 and doesn’t require a contract.

Republic, whose corporate parent is Raleigh-based Bandwidth, previously made its mark with its $19-a-month plan for unlimited talk, text and data and no-contract terms.

“Nineteen dollars is an amazing price, but after working with our members and watching usage patterns over the last 20 months, it became clear that many could pay less than $19 a month,” CEO David Morken said in a prepared statement. “One size doesn’t fit all in this market.”

Republic’s current $19-a-month plan, which will continue to be available, comes with a Motorola Defy XT that costs $199 without a contract. But the Defy XT didn’t fare particularly well with reviewers, who carped that it was last-generation technology.

The Moto X is an upgrade. Technology website CNET recently gave it four out of five stars.

“While in screen quality and storage capacity it lags behind rival superphones, the Moto X’s superbly compact and comfortable design, whiz-bang voice controls, and long battery life make it a worthy Android contender,” CNET said.

Best Buy is selling the Moto X on its website for $199.99 if you also commit to a two-year contract with a wireless provider.

Republic’s current service is a hybrid offering that uses Wi-Fi as its primary network and cellular service provided by Sprint as a backup. One drawback is that the transition from Wi-Fi to cellular isn’t seamless and can lead to dropped calls.

But the service that Republic is offering with the Moto X phone automatically eliminates the problems associated with switching from Wi-Fi to cellular.

"You don't have to do anything, literally," said Noreen Allen, the company's chief marketing officer. "It's a seamless handoff. You don't even notice."

The exception is the cheapest plan, which doesn't offer hybrid service. Instead, it gives you unlimited talk, text and data -- but only on Wi-Fi.

“Some folks are around Wi-Fi most of the time and use cellular (service) very rarely,” Morken said.

The other new plans:

• Unlimited talk and text on Wi-Fi and cellular, and unlimited data on Wi-Fi – $10 a month.

• Unlimited talk, text and data on Wi-Fi, plus 3G cellular service – $25 a month.

• Unlimited talk, text and data on Wi-Fi, plus 4G cellular – $40 a month.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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