When newly-created wireless provider Republic Wireless promised a revolutionary VOIP-supplemented phone plan, it had at least one unfortunate legacy feature: limited access to data away from WiFi access points. The customized Republic phones fall back on CDMA networks when nothing else is available, and while no hard limits were in place, Republic noted that it would "encourage" heavy data users to seek another alternative. According to the company blog, they've reconsidered this approach, and Republic Wireless will become one of only two U.S. networks to offer truly unlimited mobile data.
From the blog post:
From today, republic wireless is all-in. We see Big Cell’s stance, and are raising the standard to create something radically better. We’re eliminating all usage thresholds, and with them the concern some of you have expressed about losing your membership for maintaining too large a cellular footprint.
Republic Wireless uses WiFi connections to route and connect phone calls whenever possible, and falls back seamlessly on The Now Network should an access point not be available. Their dirt-cheap $19 plans cover everything - voice calls, text messages and mobile data - but that prospect was somewhat soured by a nebulous data policy. Now that they will offer truly unlimited data for that small price, their beta service is looking more and more attractive.
There are still a few caveats. Republic has partnered with just one traditional CDMA network with a relatively small footprint, which means you'll be out of luck if you travel frequently. And Republic only offers the LG Optimus S at the moment; because of some necessary hardware changes, you can't bring your own Android phone onto the service. Perhaps modders and tweakers will be satiated knowing that at least some of Republic's phones are running open source CyanogenMod code. We'll be keeping a close eye on Republic Wireless, for either expanded areas of non-WiFi coverage or more recent hardware options.