Every now and then you hear about something – the $100 laptop, the $35 tablet, the $19 smartphone plan – that seem to good to be true. And in some ways they are – there are limitations and compromises and caveats. In terms of the $19 smartphone plan, this week Republic Wireless unveiled their rumored plan – and it is both good and bad.
The system is based on controlling the hardware – you need to use one of their special LG Optimus phones – and shifting much of the ‘heavy lifting’ to WiFi. So if you need the latest phone or are constantly on 3G with no WiFi in sight, or are a heavy text/phone/data user … this is NOT the plan you’re looking for.
They are upfront about ‘the catch’ – which is that you are expected to mostly use WiFi.:
Are you a Wi-Fi person?
Chances are, yes. Research shows that most people are around Wi-Fi networks 60% of the time, and growing. If that’s you, then all you have to do is set up your phone one time to access the Wi-Fi you have at home, work and wherever else you spend time. Our technology takes care of the rest.
You can become one.
The best way to know how you’re doing is by checking out your Cellular Usage Index (CUI). If it’s too high, we’ll let you know and give you tips to bring it down. You have plenty of time. But meanwhile, you still pay a flat fee of $19/month no matter what.
It’s not us. It’s you.
Everyone’s entitled to a bad day, week or month. Kicking the cell habit, however, isn’t for everyone. Membership here is a privilege. So, over time, if you don’t bring your CUI back into a reasonable range, we’ll help you find a more suitable, traditional cellular carrier.
They are calling the system ‘beta’ and have limited sign-ups. Even after that there is a fairly considerable wait – 1-2 months – before you will get started.
One thing not explicitly stated on the site is that Republic piggy-backs on the Sprint wireless network for coverage.
So if you have a good WiFi connection and relatively light use, this just might be the phone plan for you!