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New wireless provider to offer unlimited voice, data, SMS for $19 per month

News by Dan Seifert on Wednesday November 02, 2011.

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A new wireless carrier is about to hit the market with a unprecedented service plan that may just sound too good to be true. Republic Wireless, a division of Bandwidth.com, plans to launch a wireless service plan that offers unlimited voice calls, data usage, and text messages for a mere $19 per month.

Republic Wireless' plan will utilize VoIP(INFO) calling over Wi-Fi networks when a user is connected to one, and will carry voice calls over traditional cellular networks when the user is out of range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA(INFO)), this technique is not new, as T-Mobile has used it for a number of its BlackBerry smartphones and a few Android devices for some time already. Republic will utilize both Wi-Fi and cellular networks for sending of text messages and traditional data traffic, as well.

The catch is that Republic's plan requires the use of special Android handsets that the company has developed. The carrier has built special software to handle the UMA calling and text messaging services, and it will only work on the specific smartphones that it will offer.

Initially, Republic Wireless will purchase minutes and network access from Sprint, so we would expect its first phones to be CDMA-based. It says that it could buy access from other carriers in the future, as well.

The company did not reveal how much the smartphones would cost, or what options would be available for customers. The new service plan is due to launch on November 6, so we should know sooner rather than later as to what Android devices will be available and what they will cost.

A $19 per month plan would certainly shake up the wireless market, though I am not sure that many consumers are willing to make the concessions necessary to use the plan. The limitation of hardware and UMA calling, which is essentially VoIP and can vary greatly in call quality depending on network conditions, may be too much for some to make the jump. Still, it is an intriguing proposition, and it will be interesting to see if it causes the incumbent carriers to alter their plan offerings at all. [via GigaOm]

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Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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