sarahd

March Update

Posted by sarahd Mar 20, 2012

March Update

 

Submitted by brian on Tue, 03/20/2012 – 3:27pm

 

When I last posted near the end of 2011, republic was in the midst of shipping phones to our first round of beta users within the 60-day time period we promised.  Today, I’m here to answer the most popular question out there: When will we re-open beta?  The answer is: Summer 2012.

 

Now two months into full swing, our beta is going very well.  Hybrid Calling works, and the Wi-Fi wave is alive and continuing to swell.  Due to all the positives we’re seeing and our enthusiasm for what republic is becoming, we’ve decided skip the baby steps in favor of serving a greater number of you, sooner… and better.  To those who’ve been hoping to join us early this year, let me assure you that waiting a while longer, if you can, will be well worth it.

 

In the meantime, we’re upgrading republic wireless!  Next month, we’ll provide some tools to help save you money on your Big Cell bill even before you can join and make your escape.  In May, we’ll introduce a new Wi-Fi to cellular handover technology that is already blowing us away in the lab (our developers are good!).  As soon as June, we will roll out new, more powerful Android phones.  We’ve updated our Beta milestones page to reflect these developments.

 

Those are just the highlights of what you can expect in the months ahead.  Our team, now comprised of four times as many employees as we had at our November launch, is doing a great job and is eager to unveil our work!  As we do, we appreciate the way you continue lending your voice to our efforts with your feedback and support via our forums.  This is the lifeblood of the kind of company we aspire to be.  You can comment and interact with me about this post in the forum, and add your input to the focused feedback topic for members.  Get involved, hold us accountable, tell us what you think… and watch for some particulars in the coming weeks about how and when you can join us.

 

And as always, whenever you have an idea or thought to share about republic wireless, I enjoy hearing from you directly at brian@republicwireless.com.

sarahd

Member Mods and Community

Posted by sarahd Mar 7, 2012

Member Mods and Community

 

Submitted by Jessica on Wed, 03/07/2012 – 12:00pm

 

In the few months since launch we’ve learned a lot about how our phones function in the wild, and even more about how you use them.  This post gets into a little bit about how you use the phones, in ways we did and didn’t expect, and how it relates to our community.

First, let me say we couldn’t have imagined the level of interaction you’d have with us and how critical it’s been to our development structure.  You’ve gone the extra mile with reporting bugs, giving feedback, and working with Member Care to bring issues to light that we didn’t anticipate.  We’re grateful and hope you’ll keep up the good work.  Thank you!

We’ve also got a strong group of community members who moonlight as Android developers.  Just want to give a quick shout out to you guys because you’re the folks who chime in and answer questions on the forums, provide helpful solutions, and give tips when we can’t be on every thread for every minute of the day.  The idea for republic was built on the kind of creativity and innovation you exude.

There’s a lot of good in the republic, and we’re proud of it.  Occasionally, we get a few errant members whose missteps challenge the health of the community.  Since we’re a republic, we wanted to address these with transparency and in an open forum.  After all, we want to make sure that we continue to be up front with you and that we’re moving in a healthy direction.

We’ve had some questions recently about modifications to the phone –specifically as it relates to the ROM.  Now, we know that when we ship you a phone, you’re going to do whatever you want with it (whether we know about it or not). We’ve come to terms with that, although we hope you’ve come to terms with our Terms (Terms of Service, yep, lawyer speak). We could draw a hard line in the sand about what it means to break the Terms of Service, but we’d rather it be more of a common sense rule that you apply.

Although CyanogenMod has been mentioned in other places as the ROM we’re using, the ROM isn’t in fact entirely CyanogenMod.  And that’s where we’re seeing a bit of trouble pop up in the community.  The software on your republic phone has been created specifically for Hybrid Calling.  A few members have flashed* their phones (which essentially nullifies your phone’s ability to use Wi-Fi for calling).  This is disturbing to us because it negates the premise of our entire community –leveraging the power of the Internet to reduce our cellular habit (read, reducing your cellular footprint).

Still more disturbing, is that some members have attempted to return phones that were flashed*.  I’m sure you can see that it’s not entirely fair to flash a phone, return it, and claim that you had no idea why it stopped working.  We could accept the flashed device (which is at this point valueless) and send out a new phone (at our cost).  The problems with that are obvious.  First of all, it’s simply not a financially sustainable practice.  Secondly, to do so would allow behavior (flashing) that compromises the principles (Wi-Fi in preference to cellular) of the republic community.

Frankly, there’s no sense having a republic at all if we’re just going to end up using the same old networks, with the consequent same old control structures (remember contracts? overages?) that we banded together to route around in the first place.  If a $19 price point worked for unlimited traditional cell service, we’re sure someone would already have offered it by now. (By the way, since many of you have inquired, yes, republic is indeed financially sustainable as an unlimited offer even without the fair use policy, as Brian plans to relate in a forthcoming blog post).

Which is why we’re opting for choice two.  If you compromise the software on your phone and damage it as a result, we’ll set you up with another phone (at your cost) and continue your service.  But we won’t refund your money or send a free replacement.  We want everyone to be able to participate in the republic, but if you damage your phone and it’s your fault, you’ve got to make good on that to continue your service –Ok?

Now, what does that mean for the community and why are we talking about it here?

Frankly, some of you are curious.  Some of you like to tinker with things.  Some of you like to develop apps and programs and functionality for the phone that we never intended, and many of these things are great!  We don’t want any of the thoughts in this post to end up diminishing the creativity that you bring to the table.

We want our community to be a place of openness and innovation, where you can talk about your thoughts and opinions. What does this mean?  Well, practically speaking, if you modify your phone, you can talk about it in community without fear that we’ll take away your phone and shut off your service.  You should be able to talk about whatever you want as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights (see Community Guidelines for a reminder).

You can talk about what you want to talk about in community, share ideas, and develop.  We just ask that you’re responsible and forthright so that we’re not forced to deal with situations that openly break Terms of Service.  The hard line in the sand is more about common sense protocol.  We want to be as helpful as possible, and we want to give everyone a chance to participate in republic, but we also want to make sure that we have a healthy community.

It’s always our goal to be fair and open with you about our service and policies.  We hope you see that and that you experience it firsthand.  We understand this is a complicated topic, so we want to make sure that we’re getting feedback from you and that we hear your thoughts. Feel free to jump on the forum thread we’ve started to discuss it and let us know what you think.

 

*Edited to change terminology from "root" to "flash." Sorry for the incorrect use of terminology!

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