Republic Wireless – $19 a month cell service

With the smartphone world being dominated by Samsung, Apple and the comm-nexus that is Verzion, ATT, T-Mobile and Sprint (er.. Softbank?); there’s barely any reason — or way — to try to move to a smaller independent wireless company. The big companies lock you in with their fancy contracts and cancellation fees. And the most important reason of all to have a big brand name phone/plan — most of the independent wireless companies have shitty coverage and even worse customer service.

I was sick of paying a monthly subsidy to Verizon for my $600 phone that I got for “free”. $80 a month, and for what? Data caps? “Free” upgrades every two years? I did what no one wants to do and took my business elsewhere; and switched to a pre-paid service that only offers one phone — and it isn’t an S3, an S4 or an iAnything.

I ordered the Motorola Defy™ XT for $199 and planned to use it along-side my Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 for a full month before decided if I could handle the downgrade or not permanently. I was pretty used to having 4G service and a powerful phone that could handle pretty much anything I could throw at it; and then I received this tiny 3G phone with almost no processing power in the mail.

While I still had access to both phones, I always found myself being reliant on the Verizon phone whenever I needed to make an important call; or browsing the Internet when Wi-Fi wasn’t available. So, I made a hard, but necessary call — I put my Verizon service on hold so I could truly test out Republic Wireless.

The hardest thing was getting over the lack of a 4G network. It felt like the TARDIS had dropped me off in 2007. But after a day or two, I had begun to adapt. I began off-loading the majority of my data usage to Wi-Fi. Most of my data usage on the cellular network was from checking my Gmail, or my WordPress site — nothing too data-, or processor-intensive. I realized within a week that I was going to be okay with my decision to downgrade — at least on the data side.

Even though I hardly ever make phone calls anymore, I had to test out the full-spectrum of the phone’s capabilities. I was impressed to see that Republic Wireless installs software on their devices that allows (and encourages) Wi-Fi phone calls as well, which are of surprisingly good quality. When you’re not on a Wi-Fi network, Republic uses Sprint towers to process their calls.

The most impressive part of Republic Wireless’s business model, for me, is the price. After buying the phone outright, the service costs $19/month. There are no contracts, no cancellation fees, and no gimmicks. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should try the service out considering how cheap it is. If you can deal with the downgrade, then this is the phone for you.

Overall I have to say that I’m impressed with Republic Wireless. I realize that 90% of the people that I know have the best phone on the market, and will continue to upgrade their phones annually. But for those of you that have absolutely had it with paying $80 or more for your monthly cell phone usage, rest assured you have a viable, low-cost alternative waiting for you.

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