I’m a huge fan of Rick Broida’s Cheapskate column on CNET, but yesterday he had a particularly good deal for some of you that I want to share. As you may have guessed from the title of this article, it is an “unlimited” $19 phone plan that works with an Android smartphone. Before you go running for that plan though there are strings attached. For some the whole deal may be mummified in string.
Here’s the good: Unlimited voice, data, text, no contracts or termination fees. A similar plan on Virgin Mobile would cost you $55 and I consider that a great price. (I’m happy to be grandfathered in a $25 plan that gives me 300 minutes, unlimited data and text.)
Here’s the bad: The “unlimited” is only unlimited if your definition of “unlimited” is extremely limited. Did I lose you? Their version of “unlimited” is “550 voice minutes, 150 texts, and 300MB of data…” If you cross that they are going to nag you and potentially drop you.
One more bad thing: like Ford’s Model T color selection, you can use Republic Wireless with any phone you want as long as it is the LG Optimus. You’ll pay $199 for the phone itself, but with what most people are paying for cell service, that’s a bargain.
So why am I writing this article? They are using a technology that allows the phone to use wifi access points for voice, data, and text… and these don’t count against your “limit.” So if you find yourself at home or in the office most of the time, this may be a good option.
I see it as the Chevy Volt of wireless phone plans – extremely economical most of the time, but still giving your the freedom to use the extra resources when you need it. (I felt brilliant for coming up with that analogy before I saw that Republic Wireless makes the same one.)
There’s one more thing a little strange about this company… the terminology. I realize they are going with the whole Republic metaphor, but customers are “members” and the service is a “community.” To me that’s some kind of Orwellian changing the language to make people think it’s all a nice cozy, happy family. I’d prefer they call it like it is.
If I didn’t have the Virgin Mobile plan at $25, I might seriously look into this. The biggest downside to me is the data – 300MB doesn’t go too far. Using a Verizon data calculator, it seems like it amounts to 25 web pages a day or 10 minutes of streaming audio a day… and a little more than 2 minutes of streaming video.
What do you think? Is this the kind of thing you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments.