Republic Wireless, a Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO, said it will accept a limited number of new customers starting later this summer as it continues to test, tweak and improve its service. The startup began its beta customer testing, focused on a model in which Wi-Fi usage is the primary mode of data consumption, late last year.
Republic Wireless plans to offer a new Android phone.
"Now two months into full swing, our beta is going very well," Brian Dally, Republic's general manager, wrote in a company blog post. "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."
The company, a division Cary, N.C.-based VoIP and bandwidth service provider Bandwidth.com, will introduce a new, Wi-Fi-to-cellular handover technology in May. Dally said that as soon as June, the company will also introduce "new, more powerful Android phones." The company's service currently is limited to one phone: an LG Optimus smartphone running version 2.3, or Gingerbread, of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Dally also added that the company has quadrupled the number of its employees since November.
In December, Republic said it would eliminate its cellular fair-use policy and offer truly unlimited cellular service for $19 per month. The turnabout was notable in light of the fact that Republic had previously characterized its service as unlimited--but with a major caveat. While Wi-Fi connections were not metered, calls, texts and data over Sprint's network were subject to a fair-use policy. Republic structures its service to route traffic over Wi-Fi and to only fall back on cellular if no Wi-Fi was available.
The company has not indicated when its beta will end and the service will be opened to the general public.
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