On November 8th, a new product is coming out. Bandwidth.com is launching VoIP for mobile phones.
“Great,” you say, “it happens all the time.” Well, this product release is special. Republic Wireless, they're calling it. It's not a softphone app, it's a new cell phone service for Android smartphones.
Republic Wireless will use "Hybrid Calling." The phone relies on Wi-Fi when available then automatically switches to cell networks when there's no Wi-Fi. Some premium VoIP apps can already do this.
VoIP apps can save you money by minimizing your cell network usage, but you still pay for the service. The difference with Republic Wireless is that its Wi-Fi-to-cell hopping is the whole of the service, so you don't pay for an expensive package of cell network service for voice, data, and text. All of that is included, with unlimited usage.
Oh, and there's no contract.
- one number for everything, you won't have to deal with an extra VoIP number
- Sprint is the first carrier to offer their network up, though others may sign up
- no contract means no termination or overuse fees
How much for this crazy new service? $19 a month, apparently. Unfortunately, you'll have to buy a new Android phone with the proper software and hardware.
I'm not sure how expensive the modded Android phones will be, but the customers might have to take the brunt of the cost since there are no upgrade specials or plan deals.
The whole thing could be a big let down, and Bandwidth.com's claim for "evolution" pretentious if the service doesn't work well. Still, if Republic Wireless causes another paradigm shift in telecommunication service and business models, I am so for it.
Now I feel a bit silly getting my Android upgrade. Couldn't I have waited a few more months?