Billing, satisfaction, returns and other questions

 

Submitted by sirenez on Fri, 12/30/2011 – 8:26pm

 

If you’ve asked a question, bought a phone, or needed help with a billing or account issue, you’ve been in touch with someone from our Member Care team.  I’m Sandra, the senior manager charged with leading and developing our ability to meet your needs and to make your experience as smooth as possible.

 

You’ve probably figured out that we’re learning a lot and working through several challenges during our beta phase.  Some of you have experienced a billing issue, a delayed ship date, or have had a question about our service.  We know you have a lot of questions and requests, and we’re taking them on.  In the three weeks since launch, we've processed more than 50,000 individual requests!

 

Although we continue making incremental improvements in Member Care processes, ultimately our ability to provide you with great service is going to rely on having great systems to enable that.  We’re building up our systems to meet your needs, and uncovering nuances with existing systems that we must address in order to provide you with quality care.

 

You may have noticed that we try to think about things a bit differently from other providers –so much so that we decided recently to restore the original meaning of “unlimited” to our membership.  We’ve made it our goal to push against the status quo, offering you the opportunity to pay less with our Hybrid Calling technology.  We decided we should apply the same principles to our billing satisfaction and returns policies.

 

I wanted to highlight some of the more recent questions that our team has been fielding just to make sure you know where we are on our satisfaction guarantee, billing, and returns.

 

90 day satisfaction guarantee
In the TheProductGuy’s recent blog post in which he announced we’d be delaying our next product update to January, he also announced that we would extend our 30 day satisfaction guarantee to 90 days to make sure you had a chance to test drive the product with the new features we were delaying.  But what does that mean?

 

Essentially, you have 90 days from your delivery date (the time when we receive notification from FedEx that your phone arrived) to decide whether or not you want to stay or go back to Big Cell.  If you decide you don’t like us for any reason during your first 90 days, you can return the phone and claim a refund for your initial start up fee.

 

The 90 day satisfaction guarantee applies to anyone in the beta program.  We fully expect to revert to a 30 day satisfaction guarantee once we have the basics of service ironed out and decide to go GA.

 

Although we hope you don’t take advantage of this offer (and that you decide to stay with us for a very, very long time), we want to give you this option because we’re certain you’ll like where we’re going and the customer experience we plan to provide.  If this isn’t for you, you simply contact our support team, let them know you’re claiming the satisfaction guarantee, and send us the phone back in the mail (I’ll write more about returns in just a minute).  As soon as we get the device, we’ll issue a full refund to the account you provided.

 

Billing
Now, what about billing if you want to keep the phone?  We’ve decided to change that up a bit too because serving you better is a higher priority to us than charging you sooner.  There’s still some work we need to do to make absolutely sure all our order data is properly repaired.  Once we’re sure there won’t be any billing errors, we’ll start billing sometime in January (more info on exact dates tbd).

 

How does that work? Keep in mind that your start up fee included your phone plus your first 30 days of service.  So if you’ve had your phone for 30 days, we’re just not going to charge you for the time between the end of the 30 days and when we decide to start billing.  When we start billing, your new 30 day anniversary date will be the day billing begins.

 

For example, if you purchased your phone on November 8 (along with most of our members), and your phone was delivered on November 22, your billing should have begun on December 22.  If we were to start billing on say, January 15, (just an example, no definite date here!) we wouldn’t charge you for the time between December 22 and January 15, and you’d be billed on January 15 and the 15th day of the month going forward.  Make sense? If not, or if you still have specific questions, you can contact our support team here and we’ll help you get it figured out.

 

Returns
Now, on to returns.  We’re hopeful that you’ll never take advantage of this because you’re so happy with the service, but we understand that it’s not for everyone.  Returns are easy.  If you’re within the 90 days we promised (above), you simply contact us, let us know you want to cancel and we’ll provide your refund to the credit card you provided when you ordered as soon as you return the phone.

 

If you’re not within the 90 days, but decide later on that you don’t need or don’t want our service, it’s okay.  If you tried the phone and are looking for something else, we’ll be rolling out some other options soon. Regardless of the reason, we’ll stop your membership at any time.  Keep in mind that we don’t have a contract or cancellation fees, so anytime you want to walk you can.  You just contact our support team here and let us know your intentions.  Once we get the info we need to cancel your account, you’re good to go (and the phone is yours to keep since you paid for that with your start up fee).

 

Allowing you to cancel at any time accomplishes two things.  First, it gives you the flexibility to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it.  Secondly, it makes us aware of the fact that we have to deliver better-than-excellent member care and mobile service to you 100 percent of the time.  We can’t get lazy on our commitment because you signed a two-year contract… because we don’t have contracts and we don’t ever want to be that kind of provider.

 

I think that covers the basics of the satisfaction guarantee, billing, and returns.  We’re always happy to respond where ever and whenever possible to address your concerns.  Please let us know how we’re doing in the forums in the feedback and suggestions sections.  The bottom line? We want to be the kind of wireless provider you want to do business with. We’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.  After all, we don’t make up the republic; you do!

sarahd

Unlimited

Posted by sarahd Dec 22, 2011

Unlimited

 

Submitted by brian on Thu, 12/22/2011 – 3:14pm

 

In our blog post last week, we took an affirmative position on the question, “Is republic wireless really unlimited?” and laid out the fair use policies we had established to support our $19 monthly price.  A dynamic and spirited discussion ensued, which we were flattered to see!  In response, we have a big announcement to share.

 

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.

 

This is what being in beta is really all about.  We’re here to learn and innovate or fail trying.  And as we’ve said before, we’re not here to sell you, but to build a new wireless business together with you.  You helped us realize that we didn’t get this right on our first try with the CUI, that we can and should do better.

 

Some of your feedback about our CUI concept and fair use thresholds ranged from confusion to extreme criticism, with a wide variety of thoughts and suggestions in between.  Some judged our marketing to be “deceptive.”  Others felt our concepts were just too complicated, and unnecessary to expose to end users.  There’s been much debate about how to quantify an apparent “cap”... and whether it was accurate to characterize our policy as one.  Many sought further clarification from us about details, corrections, tools, and further illustrations.

 

Some of you advised that we just step back from being “unlimited.”  The incumbents, for their part, have by and large given up on the idea.  Confronted with the economics and physics of expensive, scarce cellular, and seeing profit potential in the burgeoning market for smartphones, Big Cell has employed usage caps, price increases and controls.  Now republic wireless is no incumbent, and this isn’t the direction we’re going.

 

Rather than revising our fair use policy, we’ve decided not to have one at all.  There will simply be no thresholds, and no risk of losing service.  We’re doing away with all of that to keep all of the focus instead on where it really belongs: Creating a new wireless future together.  A future that is simple to understand, unfettered to use, and an amazing value for all. That’s what we started down this path to do.  That’s where the power of this vibrant community, dynamic Wi-Fi ecosystem and revolutionary technology should be invested.  We’re all-in.

 

Our shift today is because you said that our fair use policy didn’t meet the standard republic wireless was created to meet. We agree.  We pledge allegiance to Wi-Fi and have a more audacious vision that shouldn’t require a fair use policy or a strained definition of unlimited. As I wrote in our first blog post about CUI, “The Internet sets a higher standard for the term [unlimited].... That’s the one we aspire to meet.”

 

Our product focus during beta is on building new features and tools to discover how to make unlimited work at this radical price point.  We have some ideas in progress already and on our roadmap, and we’ll want to hear not only your reaction to those, but your ideas too.

 

At least in the short term, we’ll leave the usage charting tool (including the CUI graph) in place.  We plan to update the “What’s the Catch?” page on our website so it’s unequivocally in line with our new and improved “unlimited” position.  The fair use policy will be removed, and our terms of service revised.

 

As part of that legal amendment, everyone who has purchased or purchases a phone during beta will be guaranteed the opportunity to enjoy unlimited service, without fear of cancellation, until the end of beta.  We won’t end beta until we either achieve economic sustainability or become convinced that doing so is impossible.  In the event that we end beta with a decision to abandon or change our unlimited offering, we’ll give you the option of canceling for a full refund for your device at that time.


Our current terms of service do presently include certain “unacceptable use" clauses that are separate and distinct from the fair use policy.  These provisions address use cases in which people attempt to resell our service or leave the phone “always on” as a conduit for other uses obviously beyond what would be normal for a personal smartphone.  We’ll soon be re-evaluating those provisions too.

We’re excited about the conversation we’re having together during the beta.  We realize we got it wrong and look forward to improving as we work together to realize common republic wireless goals.  Please comment below, discuss in the forum, and as I’ve invited before, I particularly enjoy hearing from you at brian@republicwireless.com.

sarahd

To release or not to release

Posted by sarahd Dec 20, 2011

To release or not to release

 

Submitted by TheProductGuy on Tue, 12/20/2011 – 9:18pm

 

So, we were supposed to deliver a new OTA release to you –the last release of 2011.

 

After looking at the options, I’ve decided not to do the release just yet.  There are a number of reasons for this, so I wanted to be open and honest with you about the progress and where we are with it.

 

First of all, time

 

You may have noticed (as posted in the forum) that we had some maintenance last Friday that we needed to do on our hosted infrastructure.  There was no impact to up time, but that was because of the heavy lifting the team did behind the scenes.  Our engineering team dropped what they were doing to focus on this issue to make sure that it would be seamless to you.  It took more time than we expected, but the results were that you had no loss of service.  In my opinion, that was time well spent.

 

Secondly, complexity

 

The amount of work required to implement several of the features we planned in the release is not trivial.  With resources allocated to the maintenance issue, the complexity of these issues required the top guys on the team.  We weren’t able to reallocate that work to other team members.  Some of the other items we were working on were in QA, but the overhead of regression testing and preparing for a release for those smaller items outweigh the benefit.

 

I felt it was better to focus on maintaining the service than to add more risk to the infrastructure and stress our other services (such as support and customer service).

 

Thirdly, scale and support

 

We are approaching the Christmas season and as you’ve seen from Facebook posts and tweets, amongst other things, lots of folks are now receiving their devices.  Virtually everyone who ordered a phone and confirmed will be on the network in the very near future, and again, I felt that it wasn't worth the risk to add these new features over this time period.

 

The consensus seems to be that things are generally working for most people.  There are a few call quality issues, some irritating bugs and of course, new features that we need to deploy, but in general, things are working.  I want everyone to get their phones and start using it, and not add a set of complex features when a lot of phones are being used for the first time on the Hybrid Calling network.  We’re not in any way resting on our laurels.  I’m trying to be pragmatic in what we do and when we do it.

 

Ok, fine, but when are we going to deliver something to you?

 

Along with taking some time to be with our families over Christmas, we’re going to continue actively improving the product, although we don’t plan to do a release of that work in December.  We’ll have a significant release through QA by the middle of January.  The engineering we’re doing right now requires us to make substantial changes to the ROM and the back end services, and we don’t take these lightly.

 

and finally...a Christmas bonus.

 

Participating in a beta like this often draws upon the patience of its users.  I appreciate that and every piece of feedback you give us.  Please keep your ideas and the issues you experience coming.  I know everyone is itching to see progress.  We are making incredible headway (not all of which is visible... yet!) and the product team has done a remarkable amount of heavy lifting to get us this far.  I’m very grateful to each and every one of them for the huge hours they have put in so far to create the product that you have in your hands (or will very shortly).

 

In light of this, plus the fact that there are a number of new things that we’ve just recently launched, like the usage charting tool, handoff in its initial rudimentary state, and others like MMS and porting still to come, we’ve decided to extend the money back guarantee to 90 days from delivery date instead of the original 30 days for everyone in the beta. This gives you all more time to try the service and see how we improve republic wireless at no risk to you.

 

I hope everyone reading this has a great Christmas and we’ll be back with a new release in the New Year.  Thank you for your support so far and I look forward to a great 2012.

sarahd

Ports, Routers, and Traffic

Posted by sarahd Dec 19, 2011

Ports, Routers and Traffic


Note: Please be advised that some of the info in this blog is currently out of date. We're currently working on a corrected version. We'll post the corrected version here once it's been completed. Thanks for your patience!

 

Submitted by TheProductGuy on Mon, 12/19/2011 – 5:02pm

 

There have been several questions on the blog and forums about what ports we are using and what settings on your routers can be changed to potentially improve the quality of your Wi-Fi calls.  This is NOT required to make calls over Wi-Fi, but the more tech-minded folks in our beta may want to try to improve their Wi-Fi calling experience at home or work by optimizing their VoIP traffic over their network.

 

First of all, I wanted to give you some insight into the ports we are using and why.

 

We decided to use port 5090 for all SIP registrations.  We chose this because some networks automatically take the default SIP port (5060) and redirect it, so we wanted to try and avoid that issue.  For the actual RTP traffic, we decided to use the ports outlined for using Facetime behind firewalls.  We feel that Facetime and other mobile video apps that use a combination of protocols to work will become more prominent in the future.  This traffic operates in the range of ports from 16384 through 16402.

 

Now that you know the ports, what can you do with your routers to potentially improve your call quality?

 

The first one is to enable QoS (or Quality of Service).  This allows you to prioritize types of traffic on your router.  The main manufacturers (d-link, Belkin, Linksys/Cisco) provide features in the Admin software of most of their routers to set this up for applications, specific ports, a range of ports, or even MAC addresses (your individual devices).  For example: Linksys routers have QoS under Applications and Gaming, and Belkin routers typically have the options under Play Features.  Check your manufacturers website for your particular model and how you can turn this on.  Most have applications for Voice or VoIP as a group that you can set, or you can set up for each MAC address.

 

Here’s some links to the main manufacturer support sites:

 

 

You can find the MAC address of your Optimus by pressing the menu button on the home screen, selecting Settings, scrolling down and selecting About Phone and then scrolling down to Wi-Fi MAC Address.  This is unique for each device.

 

Be aware that in some cases, assigning to a MAC address means that the prioritized traffic will ONLY work on the assigned device, so if you have multiple devices, you need to have them all identified.

 

Here are some additional tips:

 

  • If your router doesn’t support QoS, then you can try port forwarding.  Port forwarding allows you to send traffic over specific ports to specific devices.  Most home modems allow you to specify some form of port forwarding to MAC address(es).
  • If your router doesn’t support port forwarding, then stop reading and go and buy a new router 
  • If you’re using a residential gateway from U-Verse, then your options become more complex as you will have to put a router in a DMZ.  That’s a little more involved than this blog post intended to get, but there are a number of great articles on the web to help with this, such as this one: http://forums.att.com/t5/Features-and-How-To/Using-your-own-wireless-router-with-u-verse/td-p/2314693/page/3.

 

I hope this helps clear up a number of the questions around ports and if you are so inclined, update your routers and let us know if it makes a big difference. I’ll set up a post on the forum so you can put set up instructions for the various manufacturers so that others can go and look in there if they want to update their routers too.

 

Thank you again for your feedback.  Keep us posted on your success.

The Cellular Usage Index & How You’re Doing

 

Submitted by brian on Thu, 12/15/2011 – 11:41pm

 

With the introduction of usage charting now available in the My Account portal, tonight’s a good point in time to talk about the Cellular Usage Index (CUI, or “Index”).  There’s been some speculation and commentary about CUI in the press and by many of you online.  We understand people are so interested because continuing one’s republic membership depends upon not exceeding CUI thresholds over time.


First of all, let me assure you that during our beta, no one but the most extreme and obvious abuser is going to be, as our website puts it, helped to “find a more suitable, traditional cellular carrier.”  And even in that case, we’ll be checking in with you personally long before that time to see what’s up.

Is republic wireless really unlimited?

Big Cell has set a low bar, and by that standard, most definitely! And we meet it without the typical fine print and the fear of overcharges so prevalent in today’s smartphone status quo.  In fact, the industry’s bar is so low that some have ceased to use the term “unlimited” for what they offer.

The Internet sets a higher standard for the term, however.  That’s the one we aspire to meet.  We think it’s like the United States’ First Amendment.  Few would say we don’t actually have a right to free speech because it’s been held to be a crime to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater.  Or that your gym membership is really “limited” because you can’t monopolize one machine all day every day without eventually being shown the door.

Similarly, some patterns of use are simply inconsistent with a service that is intended to be used primarily with Wi-Fi, and cellular only as a backup.  Our fair use policies are a means of identifying those patterns.  And then of course dealing with them in a way that maintains the promise of republic for the vast majority who will find abiding by them quite easy.  The policy allows for latitude between the usage patterns of individuals, and latitude for any one individual over time.

As a “Wi-Fi person,” you’re free to do what you are going to do.  republic wireless is certainly not standing in your way, limiting you.  Instead, our tools help you to affirm that you’re doing fine, or alternatively identify how to adjust to stay within our community standards.

 

republic’s Fair Use thresholds

To illustrate how fair use works, let’s turn to the one specific (and extreme, for illustration purposes) use case we published on our website.  There, we explain that even should someone use 0% Wi-Fi in a given month (zero!), they could still “consume 550 minutes, send 150 texts, and download 300 megabytes of data without crossing the community’s fair use threshold.”  Some have complained that 300 MB isn’t much, for example.  (Of course, neither is 0% Wi-Fi!) But I’ll get to that.

First, it’s important to understand that this mix is just an example.  We could’ve illustrated the same thing with fewer minutes and more megabytes, or more and fewer respectively.  That’s the virtue of having created an index.  An index allows normalization of everyone’s usage, allowing easy comparison of very different usage profiles across everyone in the community.  Which is to say: you’re free to mix it up however you want.

The weighting we use to calculate your Index is based on the relative cost charged by our cellular providers of transporting data versus texts and minutes.  This can change over time, but presently stacks up as follows:

 

  • one megabyte of data is equivalent to
  • two minutes of voice talk time, which is equivalent to
  • six SMS text messages

 
Applying these weightings to the example on our website yields an Index of 200, assuming even usage every day (since technically the Index is based on a 7-day daily average).  That results from multiplying 10 by the sum of:

 

  • 550 voice minutes divided by 30 days, divided by two
  • 150 texts divided by 30 days, divided by six
  • 300 megabytes divided by 30 days, divided by one

 
If those figures feel too restrictive, why not assume you’re going to be on Wi-Fi even 30% of the time?  That’s quite conservative based on the early community data we’re seeing.  In that case, your Index would decrease to 117.  At the 60% level we should all be targeting, your Index for this example decreases to 67.

Put another way, if you’re offloading 60% of your usage, the 200 CUI threshold would imply you could use the following before exceeding it:

 

  • 1,500 voice minutes
  • 500 text messages and
  • 1,000 megabytes of data

 
Can you offload 80%?  If so, the numbers get even better (how about 3,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 2,000 megabytes?). Why is that so cheap?  How is that possible?!  Through the magic of Hybrid Calling and the Internet, a refreshing and may we say freeing alternative to the cellular status quo.

Time is on your side (just like republic)

But wait, there’s more! If you’re under the 200 CUI threshold, you’re good.  But even if you’re not, you have plenty of time to achieve it by offloading more of your minutes, texts, and megabytes.  That’s the idea here.  Lots of flexibility, plenty of time to become a Wi-Fi person.

As articulated in our fair use policy, when your Index is above 200, but below 400, you have three months to bring your daily average below the threshold.  Above 400, you have one month.  How much usage is that? Going to the numbers, an Index of 400 at a 60% offload implies usage of the following (or, remember, whatever mix you want to trade off amongst the categories):

 

  • 3,000 voice minutes
  • 1,000 text messages, and
  • 2,000 megabytes of data


We could do this forever!  I think you get the picture: republic wireless is as unlimited as your commitment to use Wi-Fi instead of cellular.  And because our cellular rates are sure to improve over time, the thresholds will inexorably relax.

Summary

The Internet creates extraordinary new opportunities because of the freedom inherent in its architecture.  We created republic wireless to extend that model to the incumbent topology (and economics) of smartphones.

With us, you’re free to mix the types of usage you want.  While the growing Wi-Fi ecosystem provides increasingly ample opportunities to offload, our fair use policy provides you time to get better at it.  And now, with our new usage-charting tool, you can get all the feedback you need to help you along the way.

It’s the sort of unlimited that seems, well, quite limitless.  What do you think?  Let me know by emailing me directly at brian@republicwireless.com.

sarahd

OTA Release 1

Posted by sarahd Dec 12, 2011

OTA Release 1

 

Submitted by TheProductGuy on Mon, 12/12/2011 – 11:51pm

 

Today we’re doing our first update of the phone software in the beta program, bringing the phone software up to release 107.

 

When the software is available on the Over-The-Air (OTA) server, you’ll see a notification on your phone telling you that a new release is available.  Clicking this notification will take you to the Software Update page on the phone, and a dialog box will display asking you if you want to update.  We recommend ensuring you are on Wi-Fi when you do these updates, as the files are quite large.

 

If you don’t see the notification, you can press Menu on the home screen, click Settings, scroll down to About phone, and click Firmware Upgrade.  When 107 is available, the dialog box will appear.

 

For this release, we focused mainly on Google Voice and SMS, as well as a couple of irritating bugs that were making the experience sub-optimal.

 

Google Voice:
Outgoing calls will now respect the Wi-Fi connection, so all calls to GV when on Wi-Fi should go over Wi-Fi.  The voicemail issue was a little more involved, so I am holding that back until we get it working correctly.  That will come in a future OTA release.

 

SMS:
There were several issues with SMS around delivery and truncation of long messages.  These issues have been resolved with this update.  I’m still working with our network team on short codes and MMS, so there is no change in the status of those in this release. There are some server changes being made as well over the next 24 hours that will also improve the long message delivery.

 

Voice Search:
This has been updated to use the correct version of the application.  In fact, all Google Apps have been updated to the latest versions for this release.

 

Caller ID:
This has been updated to respect the incoming request to block the Caller ID.

 

System Reset:
This has been added back in to allow users to factory reset the device to remove that last Google account on the phone as well as using Google servers for backup and restore.

 

Let us know if you any issues with the update, and thank you for your continued feedback through our beta process.

 

We’re planning on doing another OTA update on or around December 20 with continued improvements around GV, Wi-Fi login, as well as the first changes to call handover.

sarahd

"Works Like a Charm"

Posted by sarahd Dec 6, 2011

“Works Like a Charm”

 

Submitted by brian on Tue, 12/06/2011 – 1:03am

 

As you may have seen, the initial reviews of republic wireless are coming in.  We’re glad to read that professional testers and many of our earliest members appreciate the technology and that it’s working for them.  Of course, we always can and want to make it even better, and we are.


Equally, while the product technology "works like a charm" (in many ways, at least, especially this early in its life), we know very well that republic is not yet serving you the way that we want to.  Some of you have noticed this, either as a silent and patient observer, or an impatient voice demanding that we improve.

Either way, we thank you for your support!  We’re very open with you and strive to communicate what you can expect from us (or should not).  For example, see our updated Order FAQ and new My Account FAQ.  Sometimes we let you down. Our growing community pays attention and holds us accountable.  That’s very healthy.  Let’s keep it up.

By way of update, since my previous post we have directed our efforts to the following main areas:

 

  • Cleaning up our order and account data in the wake of our systems failures under the strain of high demand on launch day.
  • Refining our start-up fulfillment processes as we ship out phones according to the estimated ship date schedule we communicated to you.
  • Listening to product and technology feedback and using that directly in our ongoing engineering efforts.
  • Answering questions and solving individual issues ranging from concerns about your order, to trouble signing into the My Account portal and clarifying phone number and porting preferences.
  • Reassessing and building systems, processes, and staff to prepare to serve you more effectively and more efficiently

 

Our progress in some of these areas is obvious, while in others it remains in the background.  There are hard tradeoffs to be made at this stage of building our company.  Being a small team, moving forward in one area often limits us (and unfortunately, you) in another.

An Example: Numbers

The process of issuing phone numbers is a great example of this dynamic.  Prior to launch, we were well aware that, ideally, people would want to have a choice of numbers.  Our buyflow didn’t include that step for many reasons, one being the systems complexity involved.  We chose to launch earlier than we otherwise would’ve with that feature, knowing we’d add it later.

That’s a good indicator of the kind of company we are.  We’re lightweight and active.  We defeat inertia.  We develop and launch, listen, think, rinse and repeat.  The perfect is not the enemy of the good here.  That causes some problems, and sometimes makes us look bad, but we accept that as the price of learning more from the market, faster.

So we shipped without a sophisticated number management system, with a resulting suboptimal user experience in that dimension and a dozen others.  That has led to some disappointment for some of you whose orders were delayed past the estimated ship date we communicated.  It will also lead us to communicate additional delays soon because we’re now writing code to engineer around the new limitations we’re discovering.  That, of course, takes additional time even as we design, build, and test in short, focused cycles.  Fortunately, the same engineering work that enables us to assign more numbers, more quickly in the short term also provides the foundation we need to support a better buying experience for the long term.

Being in beta, our main purpose now is to advance the core product technology while we build the supporting systems around it, all of which would be necessary to launch a full commercial offering next year.  Of course, not everyone has the same perspective.  The US consumer (I include myself here) is the most demanding in the world, and generally that’s a good thing.  We’re not shy about what we want, how we expect things to be, and we want it all... now!  That ultimately makes for competitive companies and great products.

That’s how our company is being built, in the open, listening to what you want and what you expect, and engineering great user experiences out of real-world problems, gradually, one at a time.  This is true for porting, self-managing your account, adding phones and many other features you can expect from us as we progress.

What’s Next

The first few weeks after launch were full of long days and time away from our families. Thanksgiving provided a welcome rest and chance to clear our heads.  Since then we’ve been assessing and planning our next steps.  Here’s a quick rundown of what we’re working on and what you can expect:

 

  • Hiring! We’ve created great new jobs here in Cary, NC.  Know someone who’d be a fit? Send them our way (check out the Jobs page).
  • Updating estimated ship dates.  Later this week, you should expect an email at minimum confirming or in some cases communicating a date change of up to one week.  Note, even when we have calculated revised estimates, the new dates may not be reflected on the My Account portal.  Some of the infrastructure investments we’re making in that area preclude updating your order data.  Please don’t be surprised if we temporarily remove the “estimated ship date” feature altogether.
  • Opening up the “How You’re Doing” feature on members’ My Account portal, enabling you to see your daily Wi-Fi offload percentage and cellular footprint.
  • Initiating the porting process for those interested in transferring your existing number from another provider. There’ll be more information on the procedures to come.  You’ll have control over the timing.  Regardless of what you selected at the time of your order, we won’t port your number without specific, additional authorization from you to do so.
  • Beginning to contact those of you with incomplete orders who have confirmed your interest and are awaiting to complete them with payment.  Note that we’re waiting to start this process until we’re ready to update estimated ship dates.  We estimate that contacting everyone individually will probably require two to three weeks.

 

As part of these efforts and in parallel with them, we’re continuing to refine our product and prepare for general commercial release early next year.  For more detail on the milestones leading to that point, check out our new Beta Milestones page.  We’ll update that content with dates and more information as we continue moving forward.

Until next time, thanks for your continuing interest, support, and patience as we develop republic into the kind of company we’re all hoping it can be, and that we know it can be.  As always, if you have thoughts about republic, or more broadly about the entrepreneurial journey we are on, please write me at brian@republicwireless.com.  I enjoy hearing from you.

sarahd

Forums are live!

Posted by sarahd Dec 2, 2011

Forums are live!

 

Submitted by Jessica on Fri, 12/02/2011 – 5:49pm

 

“A body of persons freely engaged in a specific activity.”


That’s Merriam-Webster’s formal definition of the term “republic.” We chose our name quite purposefully.  After all, it’s all of you, not just the obviously radical price point and Hybrid Calling technology that makes what we’re doing possible.  We know that the ideas behind republic are bigger than we are (see Brian’s post-launch blog post).

As a community, your strength is in numbers.  We built our business model to reflect that –leveraging group buying tactics to bring the cost of cellular down (for when Wi-Fi isn’t available), eliminating contracts to give you more flexibility, and setting a radically low price point because we trust you to manage your own Wi-Fi connections.

One of the critical elements we haven’t fully engaged, at least until today, was providing a place for discussion, new ideas, and your opinions.   As you may have noticed, today we launched our forums, available in the top nav on our website.  This is a progressive step toward a better, stronger community.

We want to be more than a wireless provider.  We want our community to speak for itself.  We want to hear your ideas more than we want to trumpet ours.  So we intend to spend our energy facilitating conversation with you instead of marketing at you.  We hope that some of the changes you’ll see over the next few weeks testify to this, and that you’ll enjoy what you find here.

For too long you’ve had to accept status quo in wireless.  We want our blog, our forums, Facebook, and Twitter to be avenues for good discussion, groundbreaking thought, and pertinent feedback.  Many of you have already helped better the product by providing feedback through the blog posts and social networks, and TheProductGuy’s recent blog post is a great example of how we funnel your ideas into real development.  As we continue to advance our product in beta, your feedback is critical to our success –as a company and as a community.

Additionally, we want to foster the type of environment that welcomes open discussion about the wireless industry, Android development, and users who are empowered by their technology.  Many of you have already stepped up to champion these discussions (you and those around you know who you are!).  You’re taking the lead to create proactive and constructive dialogue, and it’s our goal to facilitate that with community tools and constructs whenever possible.

In addition to providing the foundations, it’s our role as a republic wireless team to build upon them alongside you.  So we’ll keep on publishing new blog posts, social content, and forum contributions as we’ve been doing since launch.  Now, with forums live and commentary rolling in, we have a more structured and vibrant way to interact with you about what we’re building together.

So, without delay, visit our forums and jump into the conversation.  We’ll see you there!

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