There are a lot of reasons to like Republic Wireless, the forward-looking unlimited hybrid 3G/WiFi mobile virtual network operator that started an invite-only beta earlier this year. The invite-only part is not one of them. If you've been waiting for your chance to try out Republic's super-cheap plans, then you won't have to wait much longer: the company announced on its blog that it will soon be open to all applicants. All you've got to do is pre-order the company's only available phone, the Motorola DEFY XT, for $259. There's just one plan: unlimited (yes, really unlimited) talk, text and data for $19 a month.

defy xt

Republic isn't quite the wireless nirvana we were hoping for, but they're doing their best. If you'll recall, they reduce costs by automatically switching to WiFi for all services (including calls, which use a hybrid VOIP system) when in range. The 3G service is provided by Sprint, which despite being unlimited already (albeit much more expensive) isn't exactly the most far-reaching network around. And the DEFY XT hardware would barely have been considered mid-range a year ago, with its 3.7-inch screen, single-core 1Ghz processor, and Gingerbread. And at the moment it really is the only option right now: unlocked phones won't work on Republic, thanks to the proprietary hybrid radio.

Still, $19 for unlimited everything with no contract might just be worth it. Republic says it will be shipping out the phones and starting regular service in mid-December. Any takers?

Republic Wireless

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Jeremy Bryant

    Love the idea, and I follow Republic's developments, but a this point, it's way too restricted for me. Only one phone available and with no hope of using a custom ROM...I'll pass for now. But I'll still keep an eye on them to see how this develops.

  • Steve Green

    They need to make ROMs for other phones. Let me bring my GN and flash their ROM on it.
    $19 a month is a great price, but the device is terrible.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      It's not an issue of ROMs. Their hybrid service model actually requires a custom radio, so your GN will never work (at least the way it's implemented now). But I'm sure they're working on getting more recent devices - they'd be stupid not to.

  • TSellers

    They need to focus on implementing their VOIP tech purely in software. If this was an AT&T MVNO and I was able to use a Nexus from Google Play just by popping in a SIM and downloading a Republic Wireless app/service, I would be all over it and I bet a lot of others would be too.

  • Mark

    I think I'll wait for a new model phone. When they first mentioned this phone months and months ago it was 'ok' and I would have done it then but many months have passed and they're just now going public to all and using the same old handset. Once a new one comes out I'll get it for my mother-n-law whom I pay service for. Better than the $40/mo I pay for her simple mobile. For my wife though I have her with StraightTalk AT&T SIM, much better but like $48/month

    • Rob Thomas

      The same old handset with one major change... It is now dual band and will work better while roaming - as it is able to pick up on more than one frequency. The original Defy only used 1900 MHz, and this new model uses both 1900 and 800 MHz. The original Defy left many hanging with no service when not in range of Wifi or Sprint's sometimes non-existent 1900 MHz signal.

  • Y314K

    A TMobile 4G version of Republic Wireless would kill.... TRepublic Wireless if u will... Man would that be an awesome option... On Sprint it just = Fail...

  • Bob Johnson

    I have three RepublicWireless phones, for my kids and they are happy, they have Unlimited everything and it costs me the same as about 1 phone under contract so I am happy. It depends on your needs and expectations but for a large number of folks this is something they should consider. Not everyone wants or needs the latest greatest, they just want a phone and a plan that doesn't cost as much as cable TV...