Republic Wireless, a division Cary, N.C.-based VoIP and bandwidth service provider Bandwidth.com, will launch a $19 per month hybrid VoIP/cellular service, providing unlimited calling, texting and data for customers with specialized Android hardware, a Bandwidth.com spokesman confirmed.
According to Bandwidth spokesman Kevin LaHaise, the $19 fee includes unlimited voice, texting and data without a bandwidth cap. The service is similar in some ways to Unlicensed Mobile Acces (UMA) service provided by the likes of Kineto Wireless, which works with T-Mobile USA and others. The Republic Service will allow customers to make VoIP calls via Wi-Fi and will switch to cellular networks when Wi-Fi access is unavailable. Text messages can also be sent via either network type.
The new service, which was first reported by TechCrunch, will launch Nov. 8. LaHaise confirmed TechCrunch's report that the service will require new, specialized hardware running on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and initially the cellular service will fall back to Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) 3G CDMA EV-DO network. Additionally, the service will not come with a contract or any early termination fees.
"For the first device we have a deal in place with Sprint for cellular coverage," LaHaise told FierceWireless. "It is reasonable to expect we'll negotiate on the wholesale market for devices we'll come out with in the future."
It's unclear which company will make the Android hardware for the service, and how much it will cost. though Republic's teaser site includes a picture of a device being assembled. LaHaise declined to comment on the hardware.
"You are OS-SIS--Set in Stone. You're 21st century technology married to a 20th century business model. But we've moved on," declares a teaser on Republic's website. "We don't just want wireless. We want stringless. As a matter of fact, we want it DIY. We're responsible adults. We drive cars. We vote. We can definitely join together to make a new kind of wireless network. One for us. One, in fact, that is us. In other words, we have our own Operating System. It's called Freedom, and it works."
The Republic service could potentially undercut flat-rate carriers MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) and Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), which have focused on adding Android users to drive growth and revenues. However, Republic's reported need to buy specialized hardware could hinder adoption.
Other companies have dabbled in VoIP services for Android. In August, wholesale VoIP services provider VoX Communications launched a mobile app for use on all Android phones, moving out of the shadow of companies like fring and Nimbuzz, which it previously relied upon to deliver its mobile VoIP application to an Android device. And in October T-Mobile extended its Bobsled free VoIP calling solution with the introduction of applications optimized for devices running Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Android.
- see this Republic Wireless site
- see this TechCrunch post
- see this GigaOM post
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