Republic Wireless ends beta, launches commercial service

Republic Wireless, a Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO, said it is no longer in beta testing and is fully open to the public.

Republic first launched its service about a year ago, and has been in beta testing with a limited number of users ever since as it worked out kinks and learned how to scale the business. The company closed down its beta in March and then re-opened at the end of July. Now, according to Republic, customers can pre-order the Motorola Mobility Defy XT, and the device will start shipping in mid-December. By next month Republic will be fully launched with a faster delivery time for devices, according to CNET.

For $19 per month Republic offers unlimited voice, texting and data. The service requires customers to buy an unsubsidized device directly from Republic, and relies on the company's hybrid calling technology, which is built into the phone. Republic structures its service to route traffic over Wi-Fi and to only fall back on cellular service if no Wi-Fi is available. The company is selling the Defy XT, an Android 2.3 device, for $249 plus a $10 sign-up fee that includes shipping.

In December 2011, 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.

"The most important thing we got out of the last year of learning was this Wi-Fi-first wireless approach is a strategy that will work and work well," Republic CEO David Morken told CNET.

Republic is one of several new MVNOs--many of which are using Sprint's network--that are trying to tap into niche markets with unique offerings. Morken said he expects to hit 50,000 customers by the end of 2012 and grow that to 500,000 customers next year. Morken said the company hopes to generate $100 million in revenue this year, and plans to double that next year.

For more:
- see this Republic site
- see this Republic blog post
- see this CNET article

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