Republic Wireless is unveiling a super-duper cheap, $19-a-month, no-contract, unlimited-talk, data-and-text cell phone plan meant to "disrupt" the mobile market.
Good luck with that.
Disrupt, is tech speak for "compete with the big carriers." With a $19/month price tag, the tech-blogger masses have decided that this phone will be the one to lure cell phone users away from overpriced Verizon and AT&T contracts. "This really could be disruptive, and while I think it might take some time to pick up steam, the $20 monthly price point has a very broad appeal," writes TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid.
But the attractive price point comes with lots of caveats.
The phone really is as cheap as it sounds. It is $19 a month for everything (not including a $199 phone). Republic Wireless only has one cellular option, The LG Optimus, running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which, Kincaid assures, is a "solid low-end device."
But what Republic has in price, it may lack in reliability. The upstart company can afford to offer a rate of less than $20 because it feeds off of wireless connections. Instead of automatically performing most tasks on a data network, the phone hops onto wireless networks for data and calls. This special "Hybrid Calling" system means the phone requires less data, which is often expensive. But as a commenter on Kincaid's post noted, WiFi isn't everywhere. And some WiFi requires a log-in every few minutes. It's just inconvenient.