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Republic Wireless to Give Customers Refunds For Unused Data

One of the most innovative features of Google's just announced Project Fi MVNO is that users only pay for the data they actually use. Project Fi customers add data to their plans in 1 GB increments at $10/GB. At the end of each month Google will give each user a credit toward their next payment for unused data. So if you buy 1GB and only use half a gig you would get a $5 credit.

Sprint MVNO Republic Wireless has announced that they will also give users credits for unused data. Like Project Fi, Republic's data refund scheme is a  invite-only Beta. Called Maestro, it's part of Republic's Labs Beta testing program. To be eligible for an invite you need to sign up for Rebublic Labs here and then apply to join the Maestro Lab. Maestro is scheduled to begin May 18.

Republic has revealed very few details about how Maestro will work. Most importantly they aren't saying how much the credit for used data will be and if Maestro will work with current Republic plans or require a special plan.

Currently Republic offers two plans that include cellular data:
  • $40/month for unlimited talk, text and data with the 1st 5 GB of data at high speeds, including LTE, and the rest throttled
  • $25/month for unlimited talk, text and data with the 1st 5 GB of data at 3G speeds (no LTE), and the rest throttled
Republic also has a $10/month plan that includes cellular and WiFi voice but no data. That means Republic is charging $30 or $6/GB for LTE data and $15 or $3/GB for 3G data. However, in an interview with Fierce Wireless announcing the data refund Beta, Republic CEO David Morken mentioned that it will testing a new sub-$25 unlimited talk and text, 1GB plan "alongside" its data refund plan. So it may be that Project Maestro will require a new plan where data is more expensive (as much as $15/GB) but you get a credit for what you don't use.

Republic is a "WiFi-first" operator that routes voice, messaging and data traffic over WiFi whenever possible using Android phones with custom software. Republic currently sells four Motorola phones, the $399 Moto X (2nd gen), $299 Moto X (1st gen), $149 Moto G (1st gen) and $99.99 Moto E (1st gen). Unlike most prepaid operators, Republic adds postpaid style taxes and fees of 10-30% to plan prices. Taxes and fees vary by state and include the usual sales taxes plus pass-throughs of regulatory surcharges and fees.

Republic actually announced data refunds the day before Google announced Project Fi. On Twitter, Republic has invited Google to join the Maestro lab. I wonder if Republic is serious and if anyone from Google will accept the invite?

Sources: Fierce Wireless, Republic Wireless pwk blog. Image Twitter

Related:
Prepaid Operator Profile: Republic Wireless
More About Project Fi - What It Is and What it Means

11 comments:

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  1. I was with Republic for a few months. A lot of people are pleased with their service but it was just not reliable for me. Now it sounds like Google is going to perfect what Republic is trying to deliver.and take it to another level.

    The similarity between their identified Labs projects and the model Google has announced is beyond coincidence. Something must be going on behind the scene.

    I really like the concept behind Republic and wish them every success.

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    1. I will be really impressed if Project Fi is stable from the get go. Even with all of Google's resources I am guessing this is still going to be a beta test with plenty of bugs starting out.

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    2. Sorry, did not mean to imply it would be perfect out of the gate. Simply that Google should be capable of perfecting the service, unlike Republic who has left several chronic problem in place ever since they left Beta. Mind-finger disconnect. :)

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  2. Bandwidth.com is the company behind Republic and Bandwidth supplies services to Google for Google Voice. I don't think it's a coincidence the two services are similar.

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  3. The fact that the FAQ for Maestro refers to existing using being grandfathered into the unlimited plans seems to suggest that the Maestro will eventually replace the currents plans. I am also getting the idea all the data will be LTE (where available) like Project Fi. In fact the whole thing seems identical to project in the long run when you look at the upcoming labs: calling and texting on multiple devices and a GSM carrier on the way. Knowing that Republic's parent company Broadband manages the numbers for Google Voice I seriously wonder how much of the underlying technology is shared between the two. In which I wonder just how much of a "beta" Project Fi may be. I really like Republic, but honestly they still have a lot of glitches to work out.

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    1. "I really like Republic, but honestly they still have a lot of glitches to work out."

      They do indeed. And yet they suddenly can go work on all these new features, phones, and plans when they've supposedly never had resources to iron out the glitches?

      Some possible explanations come to mind

      1) They are running scared
      2) They are in collaboration
      3) Their implementation method was not the best and now they realize they could have done it much better and easier. Maybe use the new iOS8 wifi calling and piggyback on T-Mobile's Android wifi calling.

      If #3 is true I feel a bit of pity of the current users.

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    2. A fair point. The plan changes were bound to happen though. Everyone is scrapping unlimited plans, it was only a matter of time until Republic did to. They have to stay competitive. I think they also realized that there niche market was not really interested in unlimited data so much as saving money (hence why most of their users are on the $10 plan). It is logical and necessary move.

      Developing software to make calls and texts from other devices like Google Voice seems a little stranger though. That seems like resources that could of been used ironing out the existing bugs. It kind of makes me wonder though if Google and Bandwidth might have made some kind of technology trade though. Republic helped Google develop WiFi to cell hand off and Google helped Republic develop multi-device support. Seems unlikely, but the two services are just too similar ignore.

      I don't know what to think of adding a GSM carrier. It most likely it is just a opportunity thing with Ting adding GSM and now Project Fi too. But it presents some interesting questions for the future of Republic. Is BYOD on the horizon? If not what does a GSM network bring to the table that Sprint doesn't? And if it is how will it work with Republic's custom software?

      Which brings us to your #3. Last year both iOS and Android baked VoLTE into the OS. I really expected this to be the heart of Project Fi. But it seems Google has been developing WiFi to cell handoff like Republic instead. This seems like a waste of Google's resources, a technology that should be on the way out in favor of VOIP. Nevertheless, it must exsist given that the Nexus line is vinila Android Google must have either baked the tech into Android or have plans to make it an app in the Play Store. Either way that should eventually open the doors to BYOD device down the road. Maybe Republic is already aware of this and either planning on a future Android build with WiFi to cell baked in or developing a Play Store app for BYOD.

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    3. Yeah, the "glitches" or as the fans of RW like to softly spin it as, "the caveats", are MANY. And the problem with RW is that these lack of standard features have been missing since their inception, back in 2010. The biggest detractors that keep people from trying them is their refusal to allow BYOD and their staunch refusal to allow customers to call them for customer service or tech support. I've read quite a few reports across the net that say that they only have between 100k-300k customers. And with them raising the price on a gigabyte of data to $15, and them stripping away 80% of the 5gb of data on their current $25 plan as part of their Maestro pricing plan, I just don't think you're going to see much happening with this unknown company. Google Fi has taken the spotlight now and other more aggressive MVNO's are running rings around RW.

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  4. whatz the big deal in refund if they are charging 15 dollar for 1 gb data. i would rather prefer no refund , but to get 5 gb data for 25 dollar plan.

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    1. If you review their pricing - the $10 plan (their most popular) includes no cell data. People who really need to check email on the go need to "buy up" to either the $25 or $40 plan.

      If you only used a couple hundred megabytes to check email on the go or navigate once a month, a plan with available cell data that pays back for less than a gigabyte of use is a really BIG deal. The community over there has been asking for something like this for a long time.

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    2. navigate once a month RW already have it. You can change ur plan two times in billing period and they will charge you only on prorata basis for how many days you used. not based on " how much data " you used. if i heard is correct, 15 dollar / gb on sprint network is too much

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