Running... Again?

  If you know me you know there was a time about 10 years ago or so where I was running. A lot. At least 5 days a week and at least 5 miles a run. I wasn’t training, I wasn’t preparing for a race or a marathon. I just found myself enjoying the time spent running. I wasn’t obsessed with numbers, but I kept track of them all and liked seeing improvements in time and distances. It was good physical health and mental health. Then I tweaked my knee. Not bad enough that I couldn’t walk on it, just a tweak that told me I needed to back off of running for a little bit. So I decided on 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks I aborted a run very early as the pain was still there. 2 weeks became 3, became a month, became 5 years. 

Republic Wireless

This is what I'm talking about!
I'm getting a smartphone. No big deal, right? Everyone and their mother (including mine) has a smart phone. But this one is a little different. And, I'm pretty sure I'm paying less than you. I mean like a lot less. But let me back up a bit. +Republic Wireless is a MVNO, a mobile virtual network operator, of Sprint. What that basically means is that RW doesn't actually have a cell tower or a network of their own they buy bandwidth from Sprint's network. So far nothing different than Virgin Mobile who does the same thing. But RW uses what is called a hybrid system. See we're usually around a network that we already pay for and is usually of a higher quality than a cellular network so RW's plan is that we use that network for most of the time using the phone then fall back on cellular networks when we're not connected to it. What network is this? Your home internet connection. Chances are, if you're like me, your cell connection was iffy at best when you were home anyway, so this should be great! But your cell phone already uses your WiFi network at home, you might be thinking. Well, yes and no. Sure it uses it for data; getting your email, Twitter, Facebook, and G+ updates, but it doesn't use it for phone calls.

In 2011 RW launched in beta on a lowly LG Optimus S phone. The phone ran Android which allowed for some tinkering to make this hybrid calling system work at the system level. There are VOIP (voice over internet protocol) apps out there, but they run as a third party app and you have to either keep them open all the time or remember to open them when you want to make a call. RW's customized Android system put the VOIP in the Android code so you would just use the phone like normal. You use the normal phone app the phone came with and the normal messaging app. And in return for using your own WiFi network (or your work, your coffee shop, your McDonald's, etc) your bill was $19 a month for unlimited everything. Let me repeat that, $19 unlimited data, calling, and texting. The idea is a very disruptive one for the cell phone industry, but the big four (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile) weren't scared. See to use this system you had to use RW's phone, and RW's phones weren't all that great; left over LG Optimus S, and then Motorola Defys. I was intrigued about the service back in 2011, but since I find any Android version before Jellybean (4.2) to look and feel ugly I wouldn't let myself use it. Fast forward to November 14 and now we have RW coming out of beta with arguably one of the best Android phone of 2013, the Motorola Moto X.

I'm not going to go into detail about the phone in this post, but suffice it to say it's a very good phone made by a company owned by Google, Motorola. It is running Android 4.2.2 Jellybean, meaning it's both useable and not horrible to look at, and it's got some great features only found on the X.  RW has perfected a lot of rough edges to their service and now I'm ready to jump on. For $299 you get a contract free white or black Motorola Moto X with 16GB of storage. Now before you start saying you can get it for $50 or free those deals are with a 2 year plan from one of the big four. And with that 2 year plan are early termination fees and high monthly plan rates. They also learned a lot about their business structure and with the new phone comes new plans:

The Plans
As you can see all the plans are far cheaper than those from the big four. I haven't aggressively been keeping up with pricing, but if you can find unlimited everything plan for less than $80 a month I'd be surprised. So worst case scenario with RW is a 50% savings. The bad news about these plans, as I stated before, is the cell network side of things is Sprint, and Sprint looks to be the slowest 3G or 4G network around and in terms of 4G is the least developed network around. So odds are you won't be bragging about your speed, but you will be bragging about your bill. Another nice feature with the plans is the ability to switch plans up to twice a month. So you can be on the $10 plan, getting your data from your WiFi networks, then if a trip comes up change the plan from the phone to the 3G or 4G plan, then change back when you get home. RW seems to be very customer friendly.

So between the phone and the plans I felt the time was right to try Republic Wireless and see just how good and how disruptive they are. I'll be throwing in posts over the next month or so with my thoughts on the phone and the service. And if you're ready to try the service out now (there is a 30 day trial period) use this link, it'll get you $19 off your first month.


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