Last week we broke the news that Bandwidth.com was launching a disruptive mobile carrier called Republic Wireless. The service will use special handsets that take advantage of Wifi networks whenever possible, and will fallback to a ‘normal' cellular connection whenever Wifi isn't available. A report from GigaOM pegs the price at a mere $19 per month - with unlimited text, data, and voice.
That's massive savings compared to the standard contracts offered by Verizon, AT&T, et al. But there's a catch: to use Republic Wireless, you need to buy a new handset (the devices are Android-based, but they use a special combination of hardware and software that can't be ported to other devices, at least not yet). Thankfully those handsets are going to be relatively inexpensive.
Numerous tipsters have written in to say they've just received the following email from Republic Wireless - and we've just confirmed with the company - that the handsets will be $99 for anyone who uses the code ‘welcome19′ by November 27. And that's with no contract. After that early-signup period ends, the price will jump to $199, which is still significantly less expensive than most off-contract phones. Update: The code is welcome19, with a lowercase w - it won't work if you use a capital letter.
Initially, Republic Wireless will be using Sprint as its fallback when Wifi isn't available, but it sounds like it's working to offer service from other carriers as well. Here's the email that is starting to land in some early users' inboxes - the service's homepage is advertising a full launch tomorrow:
Welcome to republic wireless.
So what's it like here?
A reward for being first:
Join now, and pay $99. That's $100 less than the normal $199 cost. You read that right. For $99 you get a new smartphone, and a whole new kind of mobile phone network.
Freedom isn't free. It's $19.
Almost immediately you notice what's missing. The hefty monthly bills, the endless nickel-and-diming, the big red contracts…yes, we can hear you now. Do you hear us? With republic wireless, you pay a flat $19 a month for everything. Period.
How is that possible?
republic is a Wi-Fi network. Anything cellular can do, Wi-Fi can do better (and for less). That's 21st Century technology. That's also basic economics. So let's all use Wi-Fi as much as possible.
Change the way wireless works
Decide whether to become a member now, or maybe later. Either way, like minds for evolving the industry are wanted here, today. You have thoughts to share, ideas to spread. Bring them to our forums. Keep up with us via our blog. Tell the republic what's up.
Next stop: republicwireless.com
There's so much more we have to show you. So visit, look around. Oh, that $99 offer we told you about? To get it, use the code welcome19 to join before November 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET.
Looking forward to being your new wireless network!