Bandwidth.com’s innovative virtual mobile carrier Republic Wireless is coming out of beta just in time for the holidays. In a blog post Monday, Republic GM and EVP Jim Mulcahy said the carrier is doing away with the waiting list and opening its online store where anyone can sign up for carrier’s $19-a-month unlimited voice, text and data plans.
Republic is trying to challenge the conventional pricing notions for mobile minutes, messages and megabytes by making heavy use of Wi-Fi. Republic is one of Sprint’s many mobile virtual networks operators (MVNOS), relying on its 2G and 3G networks for its backbone service. But wherever possible, Republic phones switch over to Wi-Fi to connect phone calls and offload Internet-bound traffic, which — theoretically at least — allows Republic to offset the large majority of its network costs.
Republic launched a year ago, but it has only let new customers, which it calls members, on board in a series of five waves as it tinkered with its business model. Starting now, though Republic is accepting pre-orders for its newest phone, the Motorla Defy XT, which will begin shipping in mid-December. The Android smartphone costs $259 and includes shipping and Republic’s $10 one-time membership fee. Current beta customers will also get access to the new Moto handset through a trade-ins or upgrades.