updated 11:25 am EST, Tue November 8, 2011
Republic Wireless beta live with LG Optimus phone
Republic Wireless, which outlined its $19 unlimited voice and data plans last week, has now gone live, albeit in beta. The only handset available that's required for the service has turned out to be the LG Optimus, which will cost $200 contract-free. Users will have 30 days to return the phone and get a refund, however.
The service will rely largely on Wi-Fi to route calls and even send text messages when available and use Sprint's bandwidth otherwise. Republic General Manager Brian Dally said he expects at least 60 percent of communications will route through Wi-Fi. Unlike previously believed, the technology behind handing off the calls from one method to the other won't be based on Kineto or otherwise work like UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), where calls are seamlessly handed off between GSM and Wi-Fi. As such, users will hear a tone in the middle of their call, but it will keep going.
Dally also revealed that phones other than the Optimus will be added, but didn't offer timelines or names. The Republic-spec Optimus will get Android 2.3 and include the carrier's software. Users will be asked to provide a home Wi-Fi network and log-in credentials as well as any others they frequent. Republic will offer only a handful of Optimus phones every Friday on a first-come, first-serve basis and is closely listening to user feedback. [via GigaOM]