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'F' THE BIG FOUR

The 'Big Four" cell phone companies should be wary of the competition.

by Oscar Parada

At this point in society we all know who the Big Four are when it comes to the world of telecommunication (at least until the 2 of them intermingle into one conglomerate):

 

AT&T

Sprint

T-Mobile

V (He who must not be named)

 

When I think about it...I’ve been a customer of each one of these conglomerates starting with T-Mobile and just ported my number to each one throughout the years (my phone number has been the same since I got my first cell phone). As time went on though, and I got a little wiser and money began to get a little tighter when my little one came around, I began to rethink some things. One of those things was finding another alternate when it comes to my cell service.

 

Now there are a plethora of other mobile carriers out there. You have:

 

Boost Mobile

Metro PCS

Cricket

Mint Mobile

The list is endless….

 

There are so many choices to choose from but there was this mobile carrier that, for whatever reason, stood out from the rest of the pack. I really can’t understand what drew me to this carrier...maybe it’s the fact that no one has ever heard of them or they are just getting their foot through the door but I think it was the fact that they offered Wi-Fi calling in their mobile plans. Either way, that carrier is Republic Wireless. A, then, small mobile carrier based out of Raleigh, NC that was first founded back in January of 2010. Now, RW is a bit more mainstream but not a lot of people have heard of them. They are definitely a growing company and last year they even opened up their very first Pop Up Shop in downtown Raleigh.

 

I’m very happy to say that I’ve been a RW customer since December of 2013. I going to be a little cliché here by saying “Why didn’t I make the switch sooner?!?!” Not only was porting over my number from He who must not be named so easy but RW’s customer service has been spot on AND their mobile plans are pretty freaking hard to beat! Want to know how much I’m currently paying a month? Don’t freak out now. Here it is! I’m only paying…

 

$23.20 a month for 1GB of data!

 

I know, I know. Let’s hear it! “JUST 1GB OF DATA?!?! THAT’S IT?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!”

 

Yes, I am!

 

Look, it’s become the norm nowadays in where you can’t go anywhere without finding free Wi-Fi. From shopping at Target to grabbing a cup of coffee at Dunkin (not Dunkin Donuts anymore) you’ll always end up with free Wi-Fi. So all this got me thinking. If there is constant Wi-Fi everywhere I go and I was pretty much at the tail end of getting rid of all things social media (no FB, Twitter, IG) I had to really think as to why I would pay $100 a month on cell service for unlimited data when I’m not always on social media, YouTube, etc. And that’s when I decided to give RW a try.

 

Now as to HOW I came across RW I really have no idea. As I sit here writing this my brain just can’t wrap around how I got to know what RW is (doesn’t help that it’s almost midnight too) but the more I looked into their services and what they offered...the more I was intrigued and excited. But before making the plunge I was pretty nervous. It’s normal for humans to fear the unknown but I’ve been know to shoot first and deal with the consequences after. The phones that they offered at the time were not bad. I got the Moto X (1st Gen). Oh what a BEAUT that phone was! Oh...and the plan that I had purchased...it was only $25 a month for 1GB but any data that you didn’t use RW would refund you back the amount. How can this NOT work?!?!?! I made it a point to make it work!


Keep in mind that by this time...I was already getting rid of my FB, my Twitter, and my IG accounts all in succession. I also had Wi-Fi where I worked so I was always connected and during my rides home I would connect my phone to a Karma Go that I had purchased (10GB) in where it was a PAY ONCE for data and it never expires until you use it all. Speaking of data...I decided to reach out to RW to see if they can provide me a data usage report on my account since I first became a member. Thankfully they were able to provide me that report but unfortunately...it was only for the past year. It’s definitely what I was looking for but I was hoping to get a little bit more data than just a year’s worth. Below is a chart that visualizes my data usage:

As you can see from the chart...I have yet to hit the 1GB threshold. “How is this possible?!” you might ask. Well, again, I’m not heavy into social media like the rest and I’ve gotten so use to not using my phone while I’m out and especially when I’m connected to a Wi-Fi. Now in case you’re wondering for November 2017...I only used 13.8MB of data. Yes...you read that correctly. Only 13.8MB. THis is why I was hoping that RW would have given me a more lengthier report because it was around that time that I had broken my Moto X at a Chipotle (they didn’t have any guac) and once I ordered my now Moto E4 Plus phone I had to transition over from their older plan to their new 2.0 plans which gave me 1GB of data for, you guess it, $23 and some change. It was then that I really kinda removed my training wheels a bit and allowed myself a little more freedom to use my data without really over doing (I have used Waze a NUMBER of times on certain trips and I’ve still managed to stay within control of my data).

 

So how has my experience with RW been up to this point? Well...I’m still a customer so that’s a good thing. I also got my girlfriend and my parents on it and so far they are having no issues at all. Heck, my parents went on a trip Europe and they were able to text me and send me pictures while on their trip. Again...how can this NOT work?

There really was no transition period for me to get adjusted. As I had mentioned before...porting my number from V (again...He who must not be named) took no more than 30 minutes to happen. After that...well...there was really nothing else to it. I’m able to make phone calls, receive text messages, and browse the interwebs like I did when I was with V. Since I’m not always streaming movies or listening to music (remember how I carry my music around?) I really didn’t notice the speed of the network (which bumps off of Sprint’s network).

 

The one thing that does set RW apart, from what I’ve seen so far, is that they have a unlimited Unlimited Talk and Text plan for only $15 dollars. This means if you’re constantly on a Wi-Fi you can stream the world on your device and pay almost next to nothing. Roam around without a Wi-Fi though and you’re only limited to just making calls and receiving text messages. This is the plan that I have my father on right now and it works just fine for him. I’ve gotten him so use to connecting to Wi-Fi networks, that are known to be safe, so that he can watch his favorite soccer team play (Real Madrid). My mother, on the other hand, is on the next plan up (just like me) that adds 1GB of data for just $5 more. She only uses the data she needs it but if the 1GB were used up then she’d be FUBAR unless she added more data or connect to a Wi-Fi. Once the new month rolls around then she’ll reset back to 1GB.

When you do get your RW phone you are recommended to downloaded the RW app which is pretty helpful in letting you know how much data you left in your plan, what apps are using up your data, you can change plans at any time by adding more data (or less), and access to additional options.

I personally like the feature that lets you know what apps are using the most data. I downloaded an additional app called NetGuard that allows the user to lock down what apps can and cannot use mobile data. This kind of feature WAS included in an earlier version the RW app but after an update that feature is no longer available (What gives, R-dub?!?).

 

RW also has a feature called Adaptive Coverage. This means that when you make a call the service, depending on how good of a Wi-Fi connection you have, will fall over to cellular service seamlessly without dropping the call (this goes vic-versa as well if the cellular service is not so great). I tested this many times and it does work wonders. The only time in where I find issues is when I have my phone (now a Moto E4 Plus) connected to the Optimum public Wi-Fi that’s available in my area. Depending on where I am located the network can be so horrible that when I’m attempting to make a call my phone will just sit there for almost a minute before switching over to cellular. Let’s face it...these types of public Wi-Fi networks are not the best so I’ve gotten used to turning off the Wi-Fi on my phone when I need to make a call. There have been plenty of times that my calls would just drop or I can no longer hear the person on the other line. This mostly happens when I’m interacting with Optimum’s service so...it’s a small price to pay.

 

The company even takes your experience a little further by providing its customers with a texting app called Republic Anywhere. Just install this app on any Windows, Mac, and Linux* PC (I loves me the Linux) and you’ll be able to send and receive your messages (SMS and MMS) just as if you were on your phone (which you can install on it as well). I have this installed on my personal laptop (it’s Linux) and on my desktop at work (no Linux...sigh). It allows me to put my phone away to avoid distractions and those phantom vibrations because when someone sends me a text, or if I get a call, I get a notification on my PC/laptop. The only thing that I don’t like is that you can’t delete messages from the desktop app. You can only archive. There have been times in where I’ve deleted messages on my phone but they still appear on the desktop app. Again, no big deal but sometimes my OCD gets the best of me when I see deleted messages still there. Oh...and did I mention that this is FREE to RW customers?

 

The company has been making big strides in providing a great customer experience and amazing value. They’ve put together some additional products such as the Relay, which they are labeling it as your child’s first phone (something I might consider with my child), and also the Anywhere HQ, which is considered their smart speaker.

 

As much as I want to yell the word of Republic Wireless to everyone I kind of don’t because I truly feel as if I’m part of a very exclusive club. If I were to see an advertisement from RW I think my heart would skip a beat but then again so many people have become victims of marketing that the Big Four have been throwing at people by telling them that we NEED unlimited data. We NEED to watch Netflix or Hulu or Showtime or whatever. No we DON’T!

 

The only thing wrong here is that the Big Four NEEDS OUR money...and I just won’t give it to them anymore.


*For you Linux users...you can go here to learn about installing Republic Anywhere.

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