Republic Wireless opens up to new customers, adds Motorola Defy XT

Republic Wireless, a Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO, said it is now accepting new customers to its still-in-beta $19 per month Hybrid Calling service that relies mainly on Wi-Fi connectivity. The company also added support for its second Android-powered smartphone, the Motorola Mobility Defy XT.

Motorola Defy XT

Motorola Defy XT

Republic, which promised in March to re-open its beta service this summer, has said it has "hundreds of thousands" of customers on its waiting list. The company, as it indicated in April, will be letting customers into the trial in waves.

Republic spokesman Kevin LaHaise did not disclose exact figures, but told Fiercewireless that there were "several thousand" customers in the beta program that closed this spring. "During the next set of waves, we're trying to scale aggressively and get everyone who has been waiting," he said.

Those new customers will be able to take advantage of the Defy XT, which will cost $249 without a contract. The gadget runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and has a 3.7-inch screen with Gorilla Glass, a 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel rear camera and is ruggedized and water-resistant. Republic customers who have been using the LG Optimus will receive an upgrade offer for $100 off the device.

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 is available.

"Members of republic are better equipped than ever before to take advantage of Wi-Fi's fullest potential, helping to make smartphones affordable for millions more in the process," Brian Dally, Republic's general manager, wrote in a company blog post. "That's important at a time when Big Cell is busy making more money at higher prices, with more restrictions and continued confusing business practices."

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. Dally wrote in his blog post that the re-opening of the beta signals the company is ready to start scaling its business.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Republic blog post
- see this The Verge article

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