Business Briefs

Raleigh's Republic, a David, takes on wireless Goliaths

Posted December 17, 2012

— David took on Goliath with a not-so-secret weapon - a slingshot - but stunned the giant with a well-placed stone and then took off the monster's head.

Republic Wireless, whose CEO's first name just so happens to be David, is facing off against telecom Goliaths with a mixture of well-known weapons that its engineering team has turned into a proprietary mix: WiFi and cellular.

So as Raleigh-based Bandwidth takes on incumbent wireless giants Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile with its Republic Wireless network - these "Davids" based at the former Red Hat headquarters located on N.C. State's Centennial Campus shouldn't be underestimated by the Goliaths.

Republic, working with Motorola, developed a special chip set that enables Republic smartphones to shift from WiFi networks to cellular when WiFi isn't available.

By utilizing the speed and affordability of free public WiFi, Republic is promising customers an unlimited text, voice and data plan for $19 a month.

That's one fifth the going rate of many other plans from the Goliaths - and most include caps on data.

Costs is a major reason why Bandwidth developed the Republic technology.

"I have six kids and several years back, I told them that if they got straight A’s, they could have a smartphone as a reward," Bandwidth Chief Executive Officer David Morken, told WRAL News. "A few report cards later, and we were paying astronomical bills for the family’s wireless plan. This was the seed that, fueled with the great ideas and effort of many, formed the basis for republic wireless. We knew there had to be a better way.

"Right now, a typical family of four ends up paying more for cell service than they do for groceries. The cell phone bill is often the second largest expense for a family – after the monthly mortgage. This is outrageous."

Republic hopes to change that cost structure with 50,000 phones expected to ship by Jan. 1 and 350,000 by early next year.

WRAL Tech Wire takes an in-depth look at Republic Wireless - the technology, the strategy and the ambition behind it in three stories:

12 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • aust1648 Dec 18, 8:41 a.m.

    You say "As far as customer service...I don't consider a call center in India as being A+ myself."

    Quite a few of the negative reviews from Republic users come from the fact that Republic doesn't even have a call center! I agree, don't like being handed off to a sub-par call center, but at least you get to talk to a human.

    From Republic's website "We don't have a call center or a 1-800 number. We don't like waiting on hold when there are answers available immediately--and we assume you don't either. Here at republic we believe in helping each other out as much as possible. That's why we rely strongly on our community for the most up-to-date info and help tips."

  • novacrazy2000 Dec 17, 3:08 p.m.

    If it works I'm in and will buy stock if they offer it. I've had it with big companies ripping people off just because they can.

  • scot30 Dec 17, 2:14 p.m.

    "Republic uses Verizon as the back-up to Wi-Fi...It rolls in and out seamlessly in my case and smokes the TMobile service I was paying $30 more a month for." - Gatsby

    You are mistaken. Republic uses Sprint as the backup to wi-fi, not Verizon. That's one reason I'm on the fence about trying Republic...because when I had Sprint it was HORRIBLE. Dropped calls left and right, and no signal in many areas that other providers had full signal.

  • krimson Dec 17, 1:57 p.m.

    "This is the result when the gov't stays out of private industry and lets free enterprise and competition work. It almost always benefits the consumer. Too bad they can't see healthcare this way."

    What do you call it when Gov't and Industry work in conjunction, like with TWC Sponsored House Bill 252??? I call it Fascism??? YMMV...

    Let's hear from someone living in Wilson about how Gov't should stay out of this industry... How is you service down there Wilson??? Greenlight is touted as the best service in the State...

  • archmaker Dec 17, 1:13 p.m.

    This is the result when the gov't stays out of private industry and lets free enterprise and competition work. It almost always benefits the consumer. Too bad they can't see healthcare this way. fatchanceimwrong

    go back and read the article - their business model is based on using "free public wifi" with cellular back-up. that is just like your private home security system that doesn't do anything but call the public security (police). it is making money off of something that is already tax payer provided. so get off your high horse about gov't staying out of private industry because if it wasn't for the free public wifi (gov't) then they would be charging as much as everyone else.

  • Gatsby Dec 17, 11:35 a.m.

    Disgruntled customers internet trolls for the various companies being hurt by the Republic?
    As far as customer service...I don't consider a call center in India as being A+ myself.

    Just Sayen'

  • Gatsby Dec 17, 11:21 a.m.

    aust1648...

    How many of those complaints are just trolls for the various companies threatened by the Republic? If you want to continue to pay more for less by all means stay away but I would recommend using their 30 day money back guarantee tojudge for yourself.

    Just Sayen'

  • Gatsby Dec 17, 11:06 a.m.

    Republic uses Verizon as the back-up to Wi-Fi...It rolls in and out seamlessly in my case and smokes the TMobile service I was paying $30 more a month for.

  • aust1648 Dec 17, 11:06 a.m.

    I considered doing this but a simple google search reveals a lot of frustrated and disgruntled customers. I like the concept, just don't think the customer service is very good.

  • fatchanceimwrong Dec 17, 11:05 a.m.

    This is the result when the gov't stays out of private industry and lets free enterprise and competition work. It almost always benefits the consumer. Too bad they can't see healthcare this way.

More...