Republic Wireless uses VOIP to offer cheap unlimited data plans
Even though I love my smartphone, one of the things that I find hard to swallow about the latest mobile tech is the price. It is not so much the price of the device, but the price of the cell service required monthly that makes it expensive.
Especially with most carriers killing unlimited data, paying over $100 a month for service just seems ridiculous. I have been a fan of MetroPCS's all unlimited $40 plan, but new player Republic Wireless want to offer the very best deal to consumers, with an everything unlimited plan at the great price of only $19 a month.
The way they manage to charge you less than others is actually fairly simple. Instead of always taxing the cellular network, WiFi will be used not only for data, but also for calls and texts when in range.
This sort of functionality has been available in some T-Mobile devices, but with Republic the transition from cellular call to VOIP call will be seamless. Call quality should also be very good, considering Republic is a division of popular VOIP provider Bandwidth.com, who powers such services as Skype.
When there is no WiFi available, your Republic device will switch to using cellular networks like a normal phone. Then, you will be able to make calls, text, and even use unlimited 3G data like you normally would. Currently, Republic is dealing with Sprint to buy bulk minutes and data, probably because they are the last carrier who offers unlimited. To improve coverage, they also hope to add other carriers to their partners as well.
The only main downside to this service is that it will require you to buy a custom device, which means that there will be little choice when it comes time to choose your phone. However, their current testing device, which is an Android phone with Gingerbread, doesn't seem that bad, so it may still be worth sacrificing device choice for such cheap prices.[GIGAom]