Bandwidth’s MVNO Republic Wireless spins off with $30M

Republic Wireless co-founders Chris Chuang, left, and David Morken.

Republic Wireless said it received a $30 million cash infusion from its parent company Bandwidth as it spun off into a standalone organization.

One of the first MVNOs in the U.S. market to focus on Wi-Fi calling, Republic launched with Sprint five years ago and earlier this year added an unnamed nationwide GSM service provider "with the fastest nationwide 4G LTE network." The unnamed carrier partner is likely T-Mobile, enabling Republic to sell its services into the rural and suburban markets into which T-Mobile is expanding.

Republic had been a division of Bandwidth, a Cary, N.C.-based VoIP and broadband service provider. The MVNO claims to generate $100 million in annual revenue and said it has reached profitability.

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Republic co-founder Chris Chuang will move from COO to become CEO following the spinoff, while Republic co-founder and former CEO David Morken will remain on Republic’s board of directors.

“The past five years have been an incredible ride as we’ve worked hard to save our customers tens of millions of dollars off their cell phone bills,” Chuang said in a press release. “However, our best days are still ahead of us. With this extraordinarily talented team and all the benefits this spin-off provides, we will accelerate our mission to provide remarkably simple and affordable ways for people to stay in touch.”

In conjunction with its $30 million infusion, Republic also announced two new holiday promotional campaigns. It will lower the price of the Moto Z Play Android smartphone to $349 from $449 from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12, and will lower the price of the Huawei Ascend 5W Android smartphone to $129 from $179 from Dec. 13 through Dec. 19. Both phones are sold contract-free and come with six months of unlimited talk and text as well as 1 GB of monthly data.

Republic offers six plans starting at $15 a month for unlimited talk, text and Wi-Fi data, and topping out at $90 a month for unlimited talk, text and Wi-Fi data as well as 10 GB of cellular data. It currently sells 11 handsets including Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, which is priced at $799.

Republic Wireless doesn't disclose customer figures but appears to have gained gradual ground over the last few years as an affordable alternative to traditional cellular services. The company is one of several Wi-Fi-first MVNO players – others include Google Project Fi and FreedomPop – that could eventually prove disruptive for major U.S. mobile network operators, although none of those service providers has yet emerged as a real threat to incumbent carriers.

Following the spinoff, Republic said it will remain in its location on North Carolina State University’s campus in Raleigh.

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