Republic Wireless declared their "beta" period over in late 2013 with the introduction of the Moto X phone. Despite that, a number of "beta" issues remain, including phone and service glitches, intermittent outages, and missing features that are commonly available at other carriers. This article is intended to help you determine, before you commit funds and time or leave your current provider, whether you will be happy with the service.
As a new Republic customer, you should test the phone and service extensively before transferring a phone number from another carrier and cancelling that carrier's service. Visit places where you will need cell service. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible, especially for voice calls. Make use of all the features you rely on having with your present phone.
Here are the other major caveats to consider:
- Trial Period and Refunds - Phones sold directly by Republic have a 30-day trial period, allowing the phone to be returned for a refund within that time. Republic pays return shipping but deducts the original shipping amount from the refund. Republic's refund may be further reduced per this list of damage charges. Phones sold directly by Motorola have a 14-day trial period for which the customer pays the return shipping.
- Unique Phones Required - Only phones originally sold for use with Republic may be used on the service, and Republic's phones can't be activated on other carriers' service. See this comparison chart to understand the strengths and limitations of the various models.
- Monthly Service Plans - The Republic Refund plans (a.k.a. Republic 2.0) provide limited amounts of either 3G or 4G data at a fixed price per GB, and at the end of the billing month issue a refund for unused data before charging for the next month's allotment of data. Compared to the classic unlimited plans that began in November 2013, this new pricing model favors those who used less than 1 GB on the 3G plan or less than 2 GB on the 4G plan. New customers who may use high amounts of data and can't move enough of their data traffic to WI-Fi would do well to compare total monthly cost with other providers. Those who were customers before July 6, 2015 can continue with the unlimited plans (throttled after 5 GB) until July 31, 2016. Buyers of phones in Republic's store can't choose the Wi-Fi only plan for their first month of service, and users cannot change to the Wi-Fi only service instantly as they could under Republic 1.0 - the change is delayed until the next billing cycle.
- Voice calling - Republic's technology that automatically uses either Wi-Fi or cell service for calls is still being improved and debugged. When it doesn't work properly, finding the solution can require technical skill and patience. Sometimes upgrading or replacing home Wi-Fi equipment is the easiest solution. At a school or business, Wi-Fi calls may not work without help from those who manage the network. Technology challenges are blamed for the inability to add pauses or waits into a phone number, and for Wi-Fi calls' lack of privacy (no encryption for VoIP traffic). Republic's phone numbers cannot receive collect calls, and are not considered mobile numbers by other carriers who allow free mobile-to-mobile minutes.
- Cell Service (non-roaming areas) - Republic's cell service is provided by Sprint, whose quality is ranked at or near the bottom among major players in JD Power's 2015 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study. While adequate for most, your location may or may not have good signal strength. Zoom in on this map to check Sprint's estimated coverage in your area.
- Cell Service (roaming areas) - Roaming users may experience missed incoming calls, lost texts, and lack of data service in some areas. Under the Republic Refund plans, roaming data costs almost $275 per GB, which means roaming users who need more than slight amounts of cellular data will need some other data solution. Voice calls and texts (SMS/MMS) continue to be unlimited when roaming. Some roaming users have reported complete loss of service that went unsolved for several months.
- Messaging - Picture messaging and group texts (MMS) lack support for some carriers and require use of the Messaging, Hangouts or Google Messenger apps. Texts to or from 5 or 6 digit "short code" numbers may not succeed because the short code service provider doesn't recognize Republic's phone numbers as capable of receiving those texts. Sending short code texts also fails when an attachment or picture is included, or when a purchase or donation is the purpose. Republic now accepts E-mails that are delivered as texts to their post-beta phones, but the E-mail's subject line isn't placed in the text, and replies can't be sent to these texts. Due to the brand-new nature of the gateway, Republic may not yet appear as a supported carrier for online services that send texts.
- International Calling and Cell Service - Republic's phones may make voice calls using Wi-Fi anywhere in the world, but outbound calls are limited to the U.S. and Canada regardless of location. Cell service is not available outside of the 50 states, not even as an option, and SIMs from carriers in other countries cannot be used (see Unique Phones above).
- Voicemail - The voicemail service lacks features and the administrative support provided by most other carriers. For example, customers who haven't established a voicemail password cannot listen to voicemail when their phone is lost or damaged. Due to these issues, some are using a third party voicemail service (Google Voice). Voicemail improvements promised in 2013, including notifications and transcriptions, have apparently been de-priortized, receiving no mention in any Product Recap since.
- Phone numbers - Potential customers should check in advance to see if they can keep their existing number because Republic cannot transfer numbers from all areas. Those wanting a new number may not be able to get one in their local calling area, and new numbers are rarely available in the entire state of Washington (see this workaround for another way to get a local number). Republic phone numbers are classified as landlines or VOIP numbers, which often increases the time to transfer the number to another phone company, and some carriers or services do not accept landline numbers. Phones on a cell service plan have a second phone number that's used in the background, and that number may receive unwanted calls and texts for its prior owner. 911 call centers will see the second phone number when emergency calls use cell service.
- Billing and Payments - It is not possible to temporarily suspend service on a phone line. Monthly service is billed at the start of the month and may only be paid via automatic charge to a credit or debit card kept on file with the phone's account. The monthly billing date cannot be changed. Republic only accepts payment cards with billing addresses in the United States. A single account may contain one payment card that is used to pay for all phones on that account. If it becomes necessary to use a separate payment method for a phone that's on an account with others, moving that phone to a new account requires multiple number transfers and the temporary cancellation of the phone.
- Customer Support - There are no company stores or local service centers and no phone numbers to call for live assistance. Support requests may be initiated via the company's website, as well as via E-mail, Twitter, or snail mail. Support via online chat is currently available weekdays between 9 AM and 9 PM Eastern. Responses to support tickets are sent via E-mail and can also be seen by checking request status at the website. For issues that don't need Republic's direct involvement, members may post in the online Community forums and receive answers from other Republic members (all volunteers). The forums are overseen and lightly moderated by a few Republic personnel.
- Website - The Republic community has a mobile version designed for phone browsers, but that interface lacks functionality compared to the desktop experience. Phone browsers other than Chrome don't work very well with the community in desktop mode. The My Account and Support portals do not have a mobile version.
- But wait - there's more! - Please see Current Open or Unsolved Issues and Feature Requests.
Despite all this, it's important to note that most members continue using Republic's service due to the low cost and freedom from extra charges. Republic also does some things better than expected - for that list, please see The Complete List of Kudos.
Last updated: 19:52, January 23, 2016 (UTC)