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Republic Help Updates

15 Posts authored by: jimm Employee

The Refer a Friend program is very near and dear to many of you. It was highly requested, and, like anytime our members want something, we’re inclined to give it to you. We rolled out an initial program and it just wasn’t good enough. So, we did what we always do; asked ourselves and asked you if we could make it better.  We could, and we did.

RaF People.jpg


Fast forward to where the Refer a Friend program is today and how it aligns with the program’s goals:


  • Participation is low–both in regard to the number of members actually participating, and the number of referrals those members make. The vast majority of folks refer just one person. Ever.
    • This tells us that the current program may not be the best value to you, our members.
    • We want the next iteration to inspire more participation and make it easier to spread the word to others in a more meaningful way.


  • We aren’t rewarding the right kind of behavior.
    • With the current program, we are only incentivizing online, transactional-focused activities (i.e. sharing links).
    • We’ve found that a lot of the times people talk about Republic is because of genuine excitement. Our strongest evangelists really do want to help reduce their cellular footprint, use WiFi to the fullest for calls, texts, and data, and keep costs down for our entire Community.  We want to strengthen that experience and help you bring in even more like-minded people who’d be a great fit for Republic too.

  • Today’s Refer a Friend program isn’t flexible. 
    • It only offers one type of incentive: financial.  For many of you, an extra $20 credit is nice, but we could offer so much more to make your time with Republic better in a variety of ways. 
    • For example:  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could save points for products, coveted RW swag, a grand prize trip to Republic HQ, or free service? Or what if we could pool points together and donate to a non-profit?  We would love to have your input on what these incentives could be. 


We’ve been big picture thinkers since 2011 – always willing to try new things, but focused on giving people the power to improve the quality of their lives.  We believe that word of mouth is our best asset, and we’re on a mission to identify the right ways to reward our strongest brand advocates that are more relevant and meaningful.


RaF Sunset.png

So where do we go from here?

At the end of the day we have two options:  Keep the current program running and potentially confuse everyone with a separate, competing program. Or, we focus all our energy into working with you to test and try new ideas. We’re choosing the latter. Really, it’s all about you and how we can develop the best program possible. We rely on you, just as we always have, to make our unique model and services work.







So with that, our current Refer a Friend program will be coming to a close on October 31, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  Any and all credits you’ve earned up until October 31st will still be processed and will of course still remain in your account.  And, you will still be able to refer friends through the launch of our new Moto E smartphone (through 10/31/14), so you both still receive $20 credit towards service. For more questions regarding this change, please visit our FAQ.


As always, thank you for being such great members.  We look forward to bringing you an even bigger, better Republic experience as we continue to disrupt the mobile industry. Please leave us any feedback you might have and please start leaving us any ideas for perks you’d enjoy for participating in referrals in our Think Tank. Thank you.

As you guys know, we’ve put a lot of thought into data roaming over the past several weeks. (Check out our previous blogs if you’d like some of that context!). To recap, here are the challenges we’ve faced:


  1. Data roaming on other wireless carriers’ networks is extremely expensive. As in, near 30 times more expensive than on-network wireless data usage. (Recall, we all benefit when WiFi networks are used instead of wireless networks at all!)
  2. This is not solely a Republic issue.  This is an issue across the industry at the moment.
  3. The tools to manage the cost exposure associated with wireless (also known as CMRS and cellular) data roaming are not as precise as people may believe. And, for us in particular, it presents problems because we have a three day lag in our access to the usage data from our carrier partner.
  4. We’ve seen that the extraordinary cost of wireless data roaming usage within the base offering fundamentally undermines our ability to deliver maximum value to the majority of our member base.


So – there have been lots of tough things we’ve had to think through. That’s a big part of the reason we reached out to you guys in our Think Tank to help us try to balance what you wanted and needed, relative to these burdensome costs when it came to plan pricing and data roaming. Unsurprisingly, what we got was a lot of different perspectives. Some folks are not interested in wireless data roaming at all while others are very much interested and want some small amount included in their monthly service plan. Others are interested, but only if it’s a sufficient amount. Still, others would like a pay-per-use option to ensure they can get sufficient roaming data. With the diversity of thoughts and experiences you’ve shared, we’ve learned a lot and have formulated some answers. We can see that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to satisfy these diverse needs; and we also hear you loud and clear when you say that a top priority is protecting low pricing. So – between the very real data roaming cost challenges we’re experiencing and your feedback – where have we landed?


Our Solution

For us, it came down to our maniacal core goal: to provide as much value to our members as we can. After speaking with our members and analyzing usage data, we’ve learned that not everyone needs or wants wireless data roaming, particularly if it's a threat to low cost plans (which, being ~30x more expensive, it is). So what are we going to do about the fact that some folks seem to really want roaming options, while others are primarily concerned with cost and are happy to focus their usage to WiFi networks? We’re going to focus on providing the greatest value for the greatest number of our members. As such, we will be working to offer on-demand wireless data roaming for the times when you need it. This will be an add-on option to our existing plans and will be priced at the absolute lowest cost possible. What does that mean? It means that we will build out an option to add wireless data roaming into any of our plans with data, so that we can optimally offer low priced plans that are protected from the higher costs of wireless data roaming.


And yes, you guessed it, it will take time to build that add-on data roaming option. So what will we do in the meantime to address the exorbitantly high costs of roaming? While we develop our solution, we WILL be keeping wireless data roaming available to you. However, beginning Monday, September 15th, we will be lowering the standard wireless data roaming allotment to 25MB and reducing roaming speeds. Based on our data, this will accommodate most of you guys who need wireless data roaming while allowing us to offer low-priced plans for the entire member base (our top priority). Lastly, we’re reaching out to folks who are clearly exploiting the current data offer and will continue to enforce the Terms of Service on this point. We genuinely believe these combined efforts will provide you guys with both the most choice and the most value, despite the challenges we’re experiencing on this front.


Of course, remember that these changes, with respect to wireless data roaming, do not affect your use of standard network data, nor will it impact your use of either voice or text even while roaming! So keep on keeping on in those departments (and don’t forget to use WiFi whenever you can!).



Thanks again for all your input in the Think Tank; it has been immensely helpful for us in understanding your wireless/CMRS data roaming needs, and reiterating that both this feature and pricing are important to you guys as a whole. After putting our heads together for the past couple weeks, we believe we’ve found a way to strike a balance that will deliver what you told us you most want. So: we’ll be advancing on the wireless data roaming add-on option as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, we’ll be implementing the changes outlined above to protect our ability to offer the most savings to you. We’ll stay in tight communication with you guys on these projects so that we’re all on the same page, so look out for more updates! Thanks again for your brainpower guys, we couldn’t have done this without you.


For questions regarding this policy change, please go to: Data Roaming Policy FAQs


As always, please leave your questions and comments here.

Late last week, we at Republic did two things that were very uncharacteristic of us: we made a data roaming policy change that seemed overly broad and harsh, and we failed to communicate why we made this change. First, let me say that we’ve listened to your feedback and we’ve already reversed the policy. I also want to apologize for the confusion generated by that lack of communication. However, I want to explain why we did it, and why we think it’s an important topic.


What is cellular data roaming, and why is it important?

From both our members’ perspective, and ours, we want coverage everywhere. There is no ambiguity or uncertainty on this topic. It’s a core foundation of our model. WiFi is everywhere, and now you can have worldwide coverage for data, voice and text - anywhere there is a WiFi hotspot. This has been liberating for so many of you…coverage where you’ve never had it before, and at no additional cost.


However, while WiFi coverage is straightforward, cellular coverage is anything but. Very few cellular operators in this country have true nationwide coverage. The reasons for this are too numerous to list here, but they include everything from spectrum allocation to capital constraints. In the end however, the fact is that building completely redundant, nationwide networks is inherently inefficient. In the U.S. a couple of carriers dominate the cellular footprint. This leaves other operators, including our cellular carrier, at a disadvantage, since they need to augment their coverage through the dominate network providers. The FCC has attempted to handle these challenges with regulatory "right to roam" requirements, where providers agree to "commercially reasonable" rates.  However, current market dynamics demonstrate that economically viable data roaming remains elusive.


Our cellular carrier gives us access to these roaming agreements, but it's very expensive. Commercially reasonable rates are a topic of much debate right now, with T-Mobile and other operators asking the FCC for help. We can’t disclose our exact roaming rates for legal reasons, but sending an email with a decently sized attachment, such as a large picture, can cost upwards of $.50. That’s not a typo – it’s crazy expensive. So you can augment your coverage with WiFi and send an email for thousandths of a penny, or you can try the cellular roaming alternative.


Republic’s approach

Of course, we've known about this for years, dating back to when we first launched Republic Wireless. One approach would have been to say “no way, we’re not touching data roaming” (and, by the way, that’s what every other MVNO does).  But you know us – we decided to see if there was anything we could do to deliver on a reasonable member expectation. So during our Beta phase, we left roaming on with no limits, just so we could study the usage patterns and understand the member need. We wanted to allow members to send an email while on the road, to have navigation when traversing a rural area, to get emergency weather updates…uses that don’t drive a lot of bandwidth and are infrequent.


Based off of our Beta learning, we felt that we could put in place a policy that met the vast majority of our members’ needs – limited access for infrequent situations. What we could not test during the Beta was how we would manage to this policy of limited roaming usage. We relied on industry data, and information from our partners, to come up with the throttling approach we’ve had to date. We expected to be able to reduce data roaming speeds by members at key usage points, and that would help keep costs in line with expectations.


What’s happened since launch, and why we changed our policy

What we've learned is simple - throttling doesn't limit our data usage to emergencies, whether it be the occasional email or weather check. It's simply too coarse grained, and too inaccurate, for us to rely on. For example, it may take us three days before we even get roaming usage data from our network partner, meaning with any network controls we try to exert - we will always be playing catching up. In three days, someone can drive a massive amount of cost. And this is just one example.


To give you some insight into the issue, here are some key data points:


  • Roaming data is utilized (at meaningful levels) by a very small percentage of our members. In fact, less than 3% of our members use in excess of 200MB per month and more than half of our base uses 0MB.
  • Roaming data makes up a disproportionate amount of our total costs and these costs are continuing to increase. For those that do use roaming data, it only takes a few outliers to incur thousands of dollars each in costs. Just three customers cost us $17,000 in roaming charges in June. This is despite our efforts to enforce our data usage policies with the cellular network tools we currently have.
  • From a customer experience perspective, we’ve found that those who live in roaming areas contact our Support Team more frequently than any other coverage category. Additionally, members in roaming areas cancel (churn) their accounts at the second highest rate - only those in areas with no cell coverage cancel more frequently.
  • By analyzing our cellular network coverage, we were able to assess that the potential for some members to use significantly more roaming data was highly correlated with their physical address.


For the last several months, we’ve been working on a variety of approaches to this problem, but it’s proven to be very difficult for us to contain. Either we’re asking a partner to change their network, or we’re asking another partner to change the software on their phone. For this particular issue, what we control directly (i.e. your core Republic communications) has little bearing on the issue. And while we have phenomenal partners, these processes and changes can take time.


One area that’s in our control is whom we sell to, and we decided last Thursday to take an action similar to other carriers and prevent phone purchases by prospective members that live in areas that are likely to result in excessive roaming. Even Tier 1 carriers will do this because of the cost dynamics.


Our intent was to see if this change could help us better manage the impact of roaming data costs, while preventing those who are likely to have a negative experience with the product from purchasing. However, we failed to adequately consider very important scenarios for both existing members and prospective members --- maybe they wanted a home phone replacement and were hoping to buy the $5 WiFi only plan, or perhaps they fully believed in our WiFi-first model and wanted to go without cellular data with our $10 Talk & Text Plan, or maybe even they’ve had an account with us since our Beta, don’t use much roaming data, and they just wanted to add another line of service to their account.


It’s clear that our approach cast “too wide a net”, preventing many new members from joining and stopping some existing members from adding new lines. For these members or potential members, our decision was a major disappointment, and displayed a lack of trust and transparency that is inconsistent with who we are and how we act. We heard you, and we’ve rescinded the policy change.


Next steps

Roaming is expensive, and continues to be very difficult to control. Our policy revision doesn’t change this fact, but at least it gives you, our members, a choice - the choice to select a plan that you think is the best fit for your experience (even if we think it has a chance of being poor). We will continue to analyze the best approach to handling roaming data – to deliver on the customer experience that we all want despite the underlying industry dynamics and costs. It is certain that our current roaming policy is untenable, but it’s also certain that shutting off sales to all roaming areas doesn’t work either. We’ll work on finding a better solution.


To wrap up, we appreciate the feedback that you’ve given us over the past week. We know that your comments are offered with an eye toward improving Republic, in every way. Rest assured that we’ll continue to refine our approach to the market as we work to get even better in the future - all in close collaboration with our members.


As always, please leave your questions and comments here.


For nearly three years, we’ve worked together to shape a different kind of wireless company.  A company that puts customers first, and that is determined to deliver on a singular commitment - to deliver a world-class experience at remarkable prices.


Thousands of new members each week join this journey with us, and have provided awesome feedback that we’ve used to improve every aspect of our service.  We’ve delivered on many of those commitments - better call quality, seamless WiFi to cellular handover, MMS, improved customer service and an awesome device in the Moto X.  Today’s announcement furthers our commitment to deliver on what you, our customers, are asking for - more device options.  First, let’s talk about the G.


The Moto G is the Republic Wireless of smartphones - proof that a world-class experience can come at a low price.  The reviews are nearly unanimous in their praise, and the G is enabling millions of people around the world to experience the mobile internet for the first time.  This is the perfect phone for Republic, the perfect compliment to our own mission. Many of us have been test driving the Moto G for a few months, and the early reviews are in - this phone rocks!  The $149 phone price ($179 for the 16GB version) paired with our plans can offer our members tremendous value. It means you can now get a remarkable smartphone and 2 years of unlimited cellular service - for less than $400.


The Moto G is also our first phone to launch with Android KitKat.  We’ve been hard at work bringing our hybrid calling goodness to the latest version of Android, and we’re excited to offer this to our members.  (FYI -- for all of you Moto X fans out there, don’t worry, the Moto X KitKat update enters the Sprint lab this month).


And we have more big news...reactivations will be launching in the next few weeks, right before the Moto G.  Now if you have an old Republic Wireless phone, you can give or sell that device to someone and he or she will be able to reactivate the service on it through a simple user interface – right from the phone for the X and from a web interface for the DEFY XT.


Awesome news, but when will the G and reactivations be available?  First, we are launching the Moto G in April.  I’m sure many of you are wondering if that means April 1st or April 30th.  I wish we could pinpoint a date for you guys, but until then we wanted to give you guys firm notice that it’s going to be here next month for sure.  Launching this phone is complex and there are lots of variables we’re still considering.  You know, things that project managers obsess about and hold daily conference calls over.  There are two things we can commit to – that it will be as early in April as possible, and that we’ll give you a heads up a few days before the actual launch.   If you want to be the first to know, just sign up for our email notifications and we’ll keep in touch!


In addition to the newest phone and reactivations, we’ve got some other good stuff coming -- things that you suggested in the ThinkTank. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that area of the Community, the ThinkTank is a dedicated place to hearing your suggestions. The feedback is very valuable to us, and we use it to help prioritize our efforts. In fact it’s helped us prioritize and deliver on  6 of the top 7 ideas in the Suggestions.  Please keep the suggestions and feedback coming!


For more details about Moto G, check out our FAQs, Tech Specs  and a G vs X comparison.


As always, please leave your questions and comments here.


Exciting News: Moto & Lenovo

Posted by jimm Employee Jan 31, 2014

We’re writing today to talk about some exciting recent news (which won’t be news to some of our in-the-know folks out there)! Lenovo is buying Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9Bn. Whew! We’ve talked about our partnership with Motorola in some of our previous posts, and how excited we are to be linked with such a forward thinking crew. Their dedication to thinking outside the box when it comes to smartphones meshes extremely well with our efforts to do the same on the service side of things. We’ll kick off by saying this doesn’t change any of that (including our device roadmap). It’s business as usual with all the same folks we normally interact with in Chicago and Sunnyvale. Now onto the good stuff….


Moto has flourished in many ways under Google’s care, but not without some challenges.  Google CEO Larry Page explains,"The smartphone market is super-competitive, and to thrive, it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices.” Positioned as we are, we can certainly attest to the fact that the hardware (device) world of mobile is very, very different from the software side of things, so his comment here makes a lot of sense. It’s tough to excel in both hardware and software.


Enter, Lenovo. This company, per Larry’s comment, is not only laser focused on hardware development but also has demonstrated monumental success in their field. For those of you who haven’t heard of Lenovo, they are a hardware powerhouse that also happens to be the largest maker of personal computers (PCs) in the world. This was largely driven by a key acquisition of IBM’s Personal Computing division -- Lenovo acquired the fledgling division in 2005, and under their care the ThinkPad line now includes some of the most popular and best selling products in the world. Lenovo’s ability to take a product like this and bring it to new heights bodes extremely well for the future of Motorola. Their vast experience in mobile also adds to Motorola’s potential -- Lenovo has been producing and distributing mobile phones for many years. In fact, as of the Motorola acquisition, they’re now the 3rd largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.


With this wealth of experience and inspiring track record, we’re absolutely stoked to see how Lenovo will positively guide and accelerate Motorola’s device roadmap.  Not to mention, Lenovo has a huge presence right in our backyard in North Carolina. This opens up lots of doors for joint innovation, and we’re very excited to see what our teams can do together.


Please post any comments and questions here.

First —a thank you

Today we’re celebrating an important milestone. This milestone isn’t about sales volumes, or a record-high stock price, or even a new phone. It’s about celebrating thousands of different people —technology enthusiasts, first time smartphone owners, and telecom vets who believed the cell industry was ready for change —coming together alongside a team in North Carolina ready to make that change a reality.


Today we are announcing a new phone, new plans, and some amazing new technology.  This is the result of a 20 month march together toward a bold and audacious mission: to make the features of a smartphone more enjoyable and accessible for everyone.  These new plans, devices, and technology all have one common thread.  They were designed for you and by you, our members, based off of your constant feedback, your constructive criticism, your usage patterns, and thousands of hours of analysis….which often went something like this...  “We can’t do that, it’s impossible...well, let’s try it anyway”.  We’ve outlined much of our journey through our recent blog posts.


We couldn’t have done it without you, our awesome members, and without the help of our incredible industry partners in Sprint and Motorola, and we want to sincerely thank all of you for your support.


What we learned in Beta

What we were trying to do with Wi-Fi Hybrid Calling technology was uncharted territory (read: kinda scary, never been done before stuff). A Wi-Fi centric model didn’t exist —there was no playbook, no script, no “tried and true” method.  We had to discover it in real time with people who were willing to believe that cell phone service could be done in a better way.  These are key learnings that we tackled head on:


1. Wi-Fi savings are real. Our technology, combined with a passionate and Wi-Fi biased member base, drives incredible savings...offering unheard of price points while also supporting a viable business model.  In fact, we think we have a way to save a significant number of members even more money.


2. We can deliver great support at a low cost. Current republic members help each other every day in our online community —responses are unbelievably fast! Our members have shown that they not only can, but want to, help each other out and make this a success. We complement this support with our 7 day a week in-house support staff. Between these resources, we’ve created a new, better, way to do phone support that doesn’t involve call centers. But don’t take our word for it, see what our own members are saying in our online Customer Help Report. If our support system weren't making our members happy, everyone would know it, immediately.


3. You wanted higher performance phones. Some of you loved (and continue to love!) the DEFY XT, but others had some challenges. Your feedback showed us that it only suited some of your lifestyles and needs, and that many of you needed something faster. We also learned that although our members love monthly savings, low recurring cost is not the only consideration for them. You wanted the option to own a high spec, high performance phone that doesn’t require a second mortgage.  It wasn’t easy, and it was our challenge to offer world-class phones (which drive more data), at world-class prices, with world-class service.


4. We can offer an amazing product and deliver on a user experience promise that is audacious.

It was very clear that Wi-Fi to cellular handover, improved call quality, and MMS were critical features for our members —we couldn’t agree more.  Where other attempts have failed or abandoned, our team has succeeded —we’ve invented new technology that enables seamless Wi-Fi to cellular handover, vastly improved Wi-Fi call quality, and MMS capabilities as well as some great new features such as visual voicemail (and yes, that will be included in the price.  C’mon, did you think we would charge for that?).  And most importantly, we’ve built a foundation that we can continue to iterate with our members, and update the experience as we continue to learn.


New phone and new plans—let’s get to it

The First Phone

We will offer the Moto X for $299…with no contract.  The Moto X is an amazing phone, which goes well beyond the “spec wars” that we see in the space today. We’ve built upon that by adding in our next generation of hybrid calling.  We absolutely love this phone, especially with Republic’s technology, and we’re excited to offer it to our members.


Let’s answer two important questions —how the heck is this phone $299, and when can I get one?


The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill.  Period.  This is NOT a $299 phone.   Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.  You’re talking Galaxy S4, HTC One X pricing (and for good reason…did we already say the phone is awesome!).


In the industry this is typically known as a subsidy, but we’ve added a twist.  We are bringing down the cost without holding you to a contract.  We’re doing this because we have trust in our members…and we have confidence in our product and service.  Contracts are inherently built on a lack of trust…and a lack of confidence in your ability to bring your A game  We believe in a better way…the way things should be.


Is this crazy?  Possibly.  Many will think this can’t be done.  We believe differently, and we are excited about pursuing yet another innovation on behalf of our members.


When can you get the Moto X with these new plans?  In many ways that is the question.  The short answer is November, and we will officially exit beta with this new phone.  We know, you want it tomorrow, and we really wish we could make that happen, but we still need to dot a few i’s and cross a few t’s. Remember our blog post on carrier certification?  That’s where we are right now —the phone is done, but now it needs to go through certification on Sprint’s network, and that process takes some time.


Why did we announce today when the phone isn’t available until November?  Well, we believe our offer represents huge savings for so many people, and we want them to be aware of their options. There are nearly 400,000 smartphones sold every day in the United States.  In our view, that’s 400,000 people that are overpaying and being underserved.  So we wanted to announce as soon as we could.


The Plans for the Phones

At the core of our crazy beliefs, and the cornerstone of our new way of doing wireless, is Wi-Fi. It is what allows us to keep costs down, give you faster speeds, and most of all, pass on lots of value. When we set out to design the new plans, success for us was largely measured by our ability to empower you to leverage Wi-Fi —this, we knew, would give you what you ultimately wanted most: savings, and better service.


Our new plans are structured specifically around this idea in two specific ways:


1. We are giving you TWO plans that use Wi-Fi data only. This is the sweet spot, where we can reduce rates to rock bottom and give you the ability to save absurd amounts of money.


2. We are giving you the ability to switch within the month between plans. Our data shows —and common sense agrees— that your life changes throughout the month, as do your smartphone needs. Sometimes, you’re around Wi-Fi all the time. (In fact, our members are about 90% of the time). This is where the $5 and $10 plans fit like a glove. But sometimes, maybe for a long weekend trip to the beach, you might want some cell data backup. This is where one of the two cell data plans come in —you can pick your flavor there, as well, and change immediately on your phone. This is the kind of power we wanted to give you —forget being stuck to a price plan for two years. We didn’t want you stuck to something for even a month. It’s your life, and you likely need something different from your neighbor. Now, you have the customization to choose.




$5 Wi-Fi only plan

This is the most powerful tool in your arsenal of options. Why? You can drop your smartphone bill —at will— to $5. If you’re interested in getting serious about cutting costs, you can use this tool to best leverage the Wi-Fi in your life to reduce your phone bill. It’s also the ultimate plan for home base stickers and kids who don’t need a cellular plan. It’s fully unlimited data, talk and text —on Wi-Fi only.


$10 Wi-Fi + Cell Talk & Text

One of our members, 10thdoctor said :  “I use WiFi for everything, except when I'm traveling and for voice at my school.” Yep, this is the perfect plan for that. Our members are around Wi-Fi about 90% of the time. During that 10% of the time where you’re away from Wi-Fi, this plan gives you cellular backup for communicating when you need to. This plan both cuts costs and accommodates what’s quickly becoming the norm: a day filled with Wi-Fi.


$25 Wi-Fi + Cell (3G) Talk, Text & Data

Lots of people are on 3G plans today and are paying upwards of $100 a month on their smartphone bills. That’s nuts. This plan is here for you during the times when you need the backup of cell data. For folks who want to surf Facebook and check email in the car (as a passenger) or who travel regularly for work, this option lets them enjoy all the benefits of Wi-Fi with the luxury of 3G cellular data. You may find you only want this cellular back up part of the month —no problem! Switching during the month to the $5 or $10 plan is easy, and is a great way to keep more money in your wallet.


$40 Wi-Fi + Cell (4G) Talk, Text & Data

We heard you tell us that you wanted a super fast option, so we added this arrow to your quiver. This plan is here for you when you’ve got a road warrior kind of month, and you’ve got a serious need for speed. Have to get work done on a long train ride? And need to work fast? This is your guy. Just like the other plans, it’s a few clicks away.


Beta members —we owe you one.

We’d never be where we are today without our Beta members. Period. We can’t thank you guys enough for taking the leap of faith to build this new world with us. Sometimes you were our most ardent supporters and, other times, as our biggest critics. We needed both of those sides from you, and you delivered in spades. There are two separate upgrade offers coming your way...let’s dive in.


1. As early adopters of Republic, we’re offering all members who join on or before September 25, 2013 a 10% discount on your monthly service fee, for the Moto X plan of your choice and for any future plans you choose with Republic Wireless, even if you change phones.


2. In addition, our partner Motorola is also offering anyone who upgrades to a Moto X from any qualifying later model Motorola device (including DEFY XT) a $100 Jelly Bean rebate in the form of a prepaid Visa card.


The best is yet to come.

Republic’s Beta was only the beginning, and we’re just getting started. There’s no limit to the innovation we can achieve as we continue to build our Republic together. We’re excited to share this exciting news with you today, and thrilled to enter the next chapter with our current and future members.




As always, please leave your comments and questions here.

A little primer...the DEFY XT design

In yesterday’s post we established that there are four ways for us to update and improve your experience —an OTA, an app update, a portal update, or a server (network) update. All of these options have their own pros and cons, and we’re constantly evaluating the right combination of approaches when designing a new feature. We’ve known about all four options since Republic’s first phone; what’s changed is our approach to how we use each one based on our learnings from the Beta.


Back in early 2012, one of our primary objectives was getting a phone out to market quickly —we had thousands of people clamoring for $19 a month unlimited, and we needed a phone that was built with deeper manufacturer and carrier support. Enter the DEFY XT. It was already slated for Sprint’s network, and at the time terms such as “carrier certification” were...well, completely foreign to us. We had aggressive timetables, and in those times when you have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.


The hammer in this case was our ability to modify the operating system, what we call the “ROM.” We always planned on an app...for things such as Wi-Fi management and usage reporting, but the most straightforward way to launch hybrid calling was to take all of our hybrid calling goodness and put it in the ROM. We knew that there was a process around OTAs, and that carrier and manufacturer participation was required…maybe we’d have to pay a few extra bucks to get another OTA. What we didn’t know is that doing an OTA is like moving a mountain. It’s epically hard, and costly, for all partners involved. Remember our blog post from yesterday...the average Android phone from 2010 to 2012 received one OTA.


This may not be a surprise to those of you who stay tight with our blog, but what it means for us (all of us —our members and Republic staff) is that there won’t be an opportunity for another OTA for the DEFY XT. We tried everything you can think of...paying $$, volunteering to fly our engineering team halfway around the world to work on it directly, even free Nexus 7s for all of their engineers (I’m kidding...but we would have offered it if allowed to!). But we’ve learned —the reality is that you can’t just “buy” an OTA after the fact. There are literally no engineers working on the project anymore. They’ve all moved on to the next phone, per the standard MO in the industry we talked about last time.


So that leaves two objectives —figure out a way…any update the DEFY XT outside of an OTA, and make sure we do everything in our power to ensure this doesn’t happen again.


A better way

Let’s revisit why we want to be in the ROM —what does it give us? The most obvious is very fine grained control over call quality. Remember how we discussed the cellular roots of Android? Being in the ROM enables us to address Wi-Fi calling deficiencies and tweak settings, and do other tricks that really enable us to dial in voice quality. Modifying the ROM is also core to providing a simple and straightforward user experience —where Wi-Fi calls and cellular calls are handled seamlessly and transparently —no other identity to manage, no app to download.


So we want to be in the ROM, but you traditionally get one update per phone, which sucks. Well, what if Android was designed with this problem in mind? Our next step was to modify some Android plumbing, and move as much of our hybrid calling goodness as possible out of the ROM and in to the app and server portions of our solution. Simply put, figure out a way to move stuff from areas that require an OTA to areas that don’t require an OTA. Sounds straightforward, but this is a LOT of work.


At this point, we have a solution where we control and can update significant portions of the user experience. However, we’re still in the ROM, and we still need more than one update per phone...because the ROM portions are critical.  To stick to our goals and iterate with you, we need to be able to take our member feedback and iterate more than once per year (or two!). Solving this problem is as much relationship oriented as it is engineering.


Yesterday, we discussed the motivations of a broken industry, and how incentives are not always aligned with consumers. To really break through and make a difference, we need carrier partners and manufacturers who are motivated by a different vision of the future —who are driven by more than just what a spreadsheet tells them. Our new phones are developed by a manufacturer who has a deep commitment to Android, to not adding “bloatware” and keeping it as close to stock Android as possible (which makes it much easier to update), and who has stated publicly that they want to fix the broken Android update cycle. This means more OTAs, and therefore a better experience for all of our members.


Bottom line

Updating a hybrid phone after release is not an easy process. The challenges in this process matter because it impacts how quickly and effectively we can pass on features to you after release. One big learning from the Beta for us has been understanding how to plant these opportunities for updates into the new phones, so that we can iterate and reiterate with you and your feedback. We still have more work to do, but we believe our changes will enable us to respond more rapidly to member feedback.


Our attitude towards the process has its roots in a pervasive goal: how can we, despite the challenges, find ways to pass on the most value to you —based on your feedback and your experience? This has resulted in lots of trial and error in our dev group, where we rack our brains to figure out how to get around seemingly impossible roadblocks to give you the updates to the DEFY XT that you asked for. This effort has allowed us to push more features to the DEFY XT than we originally thought was possible without an OTA, and we have you to thank for encouraging us to find a way. At your request, we’ll release a list of features coming to the DEFY XT tomorrow!


As always, please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

My last post described how we make a Hybrid phone, which we do as part of our mission to leverage Wi-Fi, pass on cost savings, and still keep things simple for you guys. Today, we’ll take you behind the curtain to take a peek at what we do to update one of those hybrid phones (like yours, perhaps) once it’s out of our hands. Don’t worry, this isn’t the main post this week —since we were tardy on ya last week, we’ll be doing a series of three posts (last one being the DEFY XT roadmap).


And why is this post relevant to you? Because it’s an important lead up to Friday’s run down of what’s next —and should give future members an idea of how we’ll approach updating your phones down the line.


The basics
Fundamentally, there are four ways we can improve our member’s experience with our in-market phones:


  1. Over the Air (OTA) updates —this requires updating the actual operating system, which for us requires carrier certification, manufacturer participation, and a specific action from our members (i.e. download this update and restart your phone). The most common example of an OTA is a general Android update. For example, from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean. An OTA is only possible if all partners are willing to commit resources to make it happen.
  2. App updates through the Google Play store —this is the most common and probably the most familiar way to update the user experience on a phone. Think Facebook, Twitter, or our very own Wi-Fi+ app. Something like this requires no partners (just us!) and you can access these via an app on your phone.
  3. User portal updates —in this scenario, we simply provide new functionality in your My Account portal —no download or restart required. These updates usually deal with administrative items such as changing billing information or suspending service, but we can also push some product functionality through the portal.
  4. Network, or “server side” updates —again, no intervention on your part, but in this scenario we update the guts of either our network (Republic) or a carrier partner, such as Sprint, updates their network. On the carrier side, this might include coverage improvements or faster network speeds. For Republic, we can change how calls and texts are routed, as well as adjust some call quality parameters.


Let’s discuss a practical example —let’s say we want to introduce the ability to send and receive text messages from a tablet, and have those messages come to and from your Republic phone number. Said another way, if my friend sends me a text, it will show up on my tablet and my Republic phone.


The most straightforward way to build this would be to develop a Play store app that you can download to your tablet (option #2 above), and then make server adjustments (option #4) so that texts are routed to both devices. We control both pieces of the update equation, so we can roll this out quickly. Cool, right!?  Well, maybe. While I painted a very simple scenario, what if we extend that scenario to something as trivial as emoticons between RW members? You know, those awesome expressions that are available on almost every messenger on the planet except SMS? And what if we wanted it the Android messaging app on the phone so that it “just works” (remember, we want to keep things simple and straightforward for our members)? That change would actually require us to modify the operating system through an OTA, which requires the manufacturer and the carrier to invest a lot of money and time.


I described a simple scenario, but most of our engineering and user experience decisions are anything but. Such as handover, superior Wi-Fi call quality, and a whole host of new features that we’re working on now in the lab. We face literally hundreds of these decisions...where do we “put” this the operating the app...on the server? Where can we put this feature based on our options? What is the tradeoff between member experience and updatability? What is the tradeoff on speed to market vs member experience? The list goes on and on!


The nitty gritty —this industry is broken

We think of ourselves as a software company, not a telecommunications company. In case you can’t tell by my posts, I’m a recovering software engineer, and software companies and software people have a very deliberate view of product development.


Netflix has a great presentation on the Internet about their company culture, and what they think is required to succeed in an intense, competitive consumer market. The name of the game in a creative environment is getting things in front of customers as quickly as possible, getting their feedback and fixing problems quickly, while continuing to iterate. Netflix calls it a focus on “rapid recovery.”


Consumers benefit from this approach, as companies such as Google and Netflix will take enormous creative risks and push the boundaries of engineering and product development. Now what if we take the “rapid recovery” safety net away? What if you get *one shot* to get it right, maybe two? Everything gets flipped upside down —people become paralyzed with fear, there’s a relentless focus on playing it safe, and the creativity and innovation stops.


The graph below illustrates the average # of updates, or OTAs that an average Android phone receives over its lifetime. That’s right. One. Even my home Wi-Fi router or my television receives more updates than my phone. Now look at Google Chrome over the same time period.  Insane difference. Why does this happen?


Average Number of Updates.png


All of this comes down to economic incentives and cost. Manufacturers make money selling hardware, not software. Every dollar that is put in to an OTA (which is expensive due to carrier certification) is a dollar away from new product development...which is a dollar away from generating new profit. Remember in our last post how we talked about the carriers and where they put their investment? They aren’t software companies, and they put their investments into 4G LTE, buying spectrum, etc.  They don’t really have an incentive to increase the frequency of updates —they have an incentive (and at some level you can’t blame them) to protect the integrity of their network and therefore control the software that goes on that network. As you can likely see, this incentive structure is not conducive to an upgraded experience on your phone. It’s geared towards getting consumers to purchase new hardware.


So what makes Republic different?

We don’t think that approach is fair, nor what you deserve. We have software and product development DNA and we believe our members deserve something better than the traditional model. We choose to have an ongoing relationship with our members, because we want to improve the experience and introduce new features to existing phones beyond the latest network speeds. We want to roll something out, have you tell us it’s great (or that it sucks), and then rapidly improve it. Together. Rather than push a phone out, update once, and move on.


We’ve spent nearly two years on this problem, figuring out how to apply our unusual approach in an industry that doesn’t prioritize updating already released phones. And tomorrow we’ll discuss what we’ve learned and how we can apply those learnings to the new phones (whose names we will not reveal this week) and the DEFY XT.


As always, please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.


How To Create A Hybrid Phone

Posted by jimm Employee Aug 9, 2013

In the beginning...

Most people know that Republic Wireless uses Wi-Fi technology in a very different way than all the other mobile providers. But how do we actually make this Hybrid Calling technology work, and why does it matter to our members?  The answer to this question actually affects everything from BYOD to the timing of new phone launches.  Let’s dive right in.


At Republic, we believe that Wi-Fi is better, cheaper and faster than traditional cellular networks.  It’s all around us, and growing at an enormous rate. So why not leverage it to lower costs for everyone?  Simple premise, but not easy to pull off.  You see, smartphones are having a hard time shaking their cellular roots.  They grew up in a cellular world (Android started in 2003), where the thought of sending voice calls and texts over anything *but* the cellular network was absurd, let alone sending voice calls and texts over *both* cellular and Wi-Fi.


So what does this mean for the average smartphone user?  It means that to save money on your cellular bill you need to download multiple apps (like Skype), juggle multiple identities (“call me on wait call me on cell”), and constantly think about what network you’re on (“am I going to be on Wi-Fi for the next 30 minutes?”)...a huge hassle that most people won’t bother with.  So our product objectives for Republic Wireless were straightforward - make it simple, leverage Wi-Fi and pass on the cost savings.


Modifying a cell phone- school of hard knocks



If you turn on the Wi-Fi radio and fire up your (non-Republic) phone’s dialer and hit “dial,” what happens?  That’s right, the call goes out over the cellular network. Same with SMS.  Even worse, go somewhere *without* cellular coverage but with Wi-Fi, like your basement, and try the same experiment.  The call or SMS won’t even go through.  Frustrating, right?  So how do we change that?  Cue up the wonderful piece of software known as Android.


Android, an open source project owned by Google, is a perfect vehicle for enabling Hybrid Calling.  Open source means that any engineer can look at the code and modify behavior by modifying the source code.  Awesome!  So we’re done, right?  Not quite.  On its own, Android doesn’t really do anything.  You need to marry it with a piece of hardware.  Said another way, if you want Hybrid Calling on the Galaxy SIII, you need a version of Android for that specific phone.  This ensures things like the camera and bluetooth will work properly.


The reality is that manufacturers don’t release *their version* of Android to the public.  So you’re left trying to figure out how to get the camera and bluetooth to work, or you end up inadvertently altering the battery performance of the phone (“Great news!  Hybrid Calling works...but now you get 4 hours of battery life”).  Then there are open source projects such as cyanogenmod, which provide community-built versions of Android for specific phones.  So maybe that’s the answer?  Not quite.  Now we have a little thing called carrier certification.


Manufacturer and Cellular carrier

Remember we wanted to make things simple for you, right?  That means one bill to one company, and plans that are optimized for Hybrid Calling.  To accomplish this, we need to establish what’s called a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), and buy cellular access from a carrier such as Sprint for times when you are away from Wi-Fi.  All of this is seamless for our members; you just use your phone.  But under the hood we are determining if Wi-Fi or cellular is the proper network.  In order to protect the quality of their network, Sprint, like any other carrier, must test and certify devices on their network.  This means that only the manufacturer’s version of Android will be officially allowed on the network.


So now you know that we need the full cooperation of a manufacturer, and the full cooperation of a network provider such as Sprint.  We can’t just put “our software” on anyone’s phone or anyone’s network and have it work.  Believe it or not, it gets even more complex.  It turns out that most service providers don’t build their own device software - they ask a company such as Motorola to build it for them.  We’re a software company, and our unique knowledge of Hybrid Calling requires us to build this portion of the phone.  So that’s another step in the process.


It also turns out that a manufacturer puts heavy engineering into a phone well *before* it launches, and then quickly moves those engineers to another phone after launch. For Republic, this means we need to start collaborating with a manufacturer well before a phone launches to the public - this is why we don’t launch on, say, a Motorola Photon Q, which has been in market for a year.


The bottom line


We put in a lot of work to try and make things introduce real cost savings that we can pass on to our members.  We’re constantly learning and improving, and our goal is to offer a great experience that has no compromises.  If we didn’t care about these two goals….a simple experience and tremendous value…things would be a lot easier.  But that’s not the path we've chosen.  We're rounding the corner on tackling many of these challenges, and we're excited to share what we've learned in the form of new phones, more frequent updates to our phones, and a better overall Hybrid Calling experience. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!


As always, please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

                              No Contract Cell Phones.jpg


One of the best things about working at Republic Wireless is we get to hear from, and interact with so many of our members and potential customers every day. And we listen to your input. Some of you said: “I love the idea, but I can’t afford the handset.” So we went to work...we collaborated with Motorola to bring you an even lower price.


Just in time for Dads and grads and anyone looking to save this summer, we’re reducing the cost of the Motorola DEFY XT ... Now customers can choose from the following two pricing options:


Save on the plan:  Purchase the handset now at $199 (formerly $249) and service is $19 a month.

Save on handset:  Save even more! Purchase the handset now at $79 (formerly $99) and service is $29 a month.


Why? It’s simple. At Republic Wireless we believe everyone who wants a smartphone should be able to get one. 


And what about our current members? We agree, two is twice as nice … so starting today we’re offering a $50 discount on the handset on top of the above reduced prices to any member who wishes to add a line to their account.  If you’re an existing customer, that means you can get a new line for just $29 or $149, depending on the plan you select.


The choice is yours and so are the big savings. For more information, check out our New Pricing FAQ and our Add a Line Promotion FAQ.


And finally, my favorite comments are from the members who keep us on our toes. You know who you are … You ask my favorite questions like … “When are new handsets coming?” All I can say is we’re working hard on it —a lot goes into testing among our multiple partners to make sure you have the best experience possible. I promise you’ll be the first to know as soon as there’s news to share.


Thanks again for making our jobs at Republic Wireless so much fun!

Please let us know what you think by leaving your questions and comments here.

Earn Account Credit with the NEW Republic Wireless Refer a Friend Program!


We’ve heard from many of our members that they love sharing the news about Republic Wireless. We think that’s awesome, but we also believe our members deserve more than a pat on the back—so here it is. Starting now, members can earn a $19 account credit for every new member they successfully refer.


If you’re a current member who loves the unlimited freedom of Republic, you could get even more out of your service—maybe even get it for free—when you pass along the awesomeness to your friends. Not only that, but your friend will also get a $19 credit to his or her account, just for signing up!


Here’s how it works:


  1. Sign into your Republic Wireless account. You must be a Republic Wireless member to take advantage of the program. (Community membership alone doesn't qualify.)
  2. Visit the Refer a Friend website to get started. From the site, you can share Republic Wireless with your friends by sending an email, posting to Facebook or Twitter or sending a direct link.
  3. Keep track of your results in the “More” tab of the Refer a Friend website. This is your personal dashboard to see how your credits are adding up. Check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to keep track of your referrals.
  4. When a friend you refer signs up for Republic, we’ll let you know via email. At that time, your friend will receive a one-time, $19 credit to his or her account.
  5. After the 30-day money back return period has passed, you'll receive a second notification from Republic Wireless confirming your $19 credit.
  6. You can refer as many friends as you like, earning up to $475 in the program per calendar year (a max of 25 successful referrals). For more complete details, see our Terms & Conditions. If you have questions, check out our FAQ or contact our Republic Help team anytime.


So what are you waiting for? Don’t hog the awesome. Share Republic and save even more!


Please feel free to let us know what you think about the Refer a Friend program here.


You asked. We listened.

Posted by jimm Employee Feb 19, 2013

Hey everyone—we’ve got big news to share!


Starting today, you can get our Motorola DEFY XT for only $99!


That’s right - 99 bucks. Why are we doing this? It’s simple, really. You asked. We listened.


We heard feedback from our members that they love Republic Wireless and that $19 per month works great. But for some folks, the $249 smartphone price was a barrier to join.  We heard you, and now we’re offering options.


So, now for only $99, you can get our Motorola DEFY XT Android smartphone. In exchange for lowering the upfront price, we charge a slightly higher price for the service—$29 per month. But we don’t lock you into a contract, like most other phone companies do. And our original price of $19 per month is still available, with a smartphone price of $249. The smartphone is the same (with cell plus Wi-Fi calling), and the unlimited service is the same. But you can choose whether to save more now, or save more later.


We try hard to hear what’s best for our members, and to be flexible. So thank you for sharing this idea. We’re giving it a shot, and hope this new price option will help a lot more people join the Republic. Maybe your mother-in-law, or your 12-year-old, is ready for a smartphone.


The numbers

No matter which plan you choose, the savings with Republic Wireless are still stunning when compared to other phone companies.



           Republic Wireless Cost Comparison Chart.png


Already a member?

If you’re already a Republic Wireless member and wondering how this new option may affect you, here’s the skinny. Nothing will change about your existing plan. If you choose to purchase a new line for a family member or friend, you’ll have the option to select either pricing plan— $19/month per line with a $249 smartphone OR a $99 smartphone at $29/month per line. Again, same phone, same service.


Looking to switch?
It occurred to us that people who recently joined Republic might’ve preferred this new option, if we’d offered it before. We’re open to this, so if you recently purchased a membership and are interested to switch plans, please click here for more information. We debated this a lot, and in the end, we figured that’s the way we’d like to be treated.


Have questions?
Check out our FAQ or post them in our discussion thread. We’re eager to hear what you think about this new pricing option.


Rooting and user mods (v. 2)

Posted by jimm Employee Dec 21, 2012

We’ve heard from a lot of you regarding our blog post on phone rooting and user mods. In that post, we said that it’s not ok to root your phone. While that is technically true, here’s the thing: It’s your phone. And that means it’s ultimately your decision what you do with your device. But we want to help you make an educated choice. For warranty and security reasons, if you root or mod your phone, republic can’t give you the full support, warranty, and 30-day guarantee.


Rooting isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Beyond just warranty and support reasons, there are also other security risks and considerations to take into account. We want you to be aware of these risks. But let’s be clear, republic will NOT kick you off our service just because you root your phone. We will only terminate service if we feel that someone is trying to abuse our service or threaten the network for our community.


Many of you have weighed in, and have indicated that you’re interested in rooting your device to gain access to more storage, and better utilities, such as backups. Please keep this feedback coming, as we’d love to provide the customer experience you desire without requiring root privileges. republic has attracted a lot of early adopters and Android enthusiasts. You’re an incredibly important part of our community and we want to encourage your continued participation. Some of you will always want to root no matter what, and we get that. It’s that same disruptive, innovative spirit that lead to the creation of republic. We just can’t actively encourage rooting knowing the risks to your device investment and warranty. Thanks for your understanding and for the opportunity to clarify our position.


Please continue with your comments and questions here.

A couple weeks ago, we announced that the republic wireless store was open for pre-order. Since then, the republic store’s been flooded with people who are as excited as we are about this new kind of mobility. Today, we’re happy to announce that the first phones hit the streets last Friday--with thousands more going out just in time for the holidays! Check out this footage from our warehouse to see the Defy XT’s rolling off the shipping line.



Happy holidays from all of us at republic wireless and thank you for being a part of this incredible journey. Welcome to the freedom of Wi-Fi mobility--and enjoy your new dual-band DEFY XT smartphones!


Please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

Today is a big day -- not only for republic, but any current cell phone user looking for a better way to talk, text, or use data. Today, we're proud to announce that our store is OPEN for pre-order for the dual-band Motorola DEFY XT. This means that now anyone can join the republic. And that’s why we’re here in the first place – so more people can have smartphone service at an amazingly low cost.


We’ve come a long way over the past year and we couldn’t have done it without the support and great feedback from our community full of people like you. Together, we’ve set a new bar for mobile and we’re thrilled that you’re part of this journey with us. We’ll continue to improve the republic experience, so please keep your feedback coming.


Okay, now onto the good stuff.... The DEFY XT pre-order is now open to everyone - no more waves, no waiting in line - we’re talking “open” open. You can pre-order up to four phones today, and they’ll begin shipping in mid-December.


The dual-band DEFY XT features our Hybrid Calling(TM) technology that uses Wi-Fi where it's available and cell where it’s not. Unlimited talk, text and data, all for just $19 a month. No overages, contracts, or hidden charges in small fine print. Just great phone service at the lowest monthly rate in America.


You can pre-order your dual-band DEFY XT today for $249 plus a $10 start-up fee and applicable taxes. Your start-up fee includes shipping and handling. Your first $19 monthly membership will be charged when your phone ships. Don't forget, we'll continue to offer a 30-day money back guarantee so you can join republic with no risk.


It’s that easy.  So, welcome everyone…to the new republic.


Click here to join today!




Jim Mulcahy

EVP & GM, republic wireless


As always, please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

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