America's Cheapest Unlimited Data Plan Will Be Unlimited No More

Illustration for article titled America's Cheapest Unlimited Data Plan Will Be Unlimited No More

Ultra-cheap carrier Republic Wireless has been offering one heck of a cheap unlimited data plan for years now. Well, within the next few months, the plan will stop being unlimited. Depending how much data you abuse, that may not be a bad thing though.


Republic Wireless, for those unfamiliar, is a low-cost carrier that’s actually a reseller. Right now, it’s reselling Sprint spectrum to users, and soon, it’ll be acquiring a new carrier partnership to expand its coverage. (It won’t say who just yet, but our money is on T-Mobile.) It’s super cheap, but also has reliability issues.

The company is one of the technological pioneers of Wi-Fi calling technology, which uses your home internet connection instead of wireless spectrum to place calls, when possible. The different plans are basically differentiated in price by how fast data connection is. $5 for WI-Fi Calling only, $25 for unlimited 3G, $40 for unlimited 4G. As with other “unlimited” plans, Republic throttles heavy users. Your data speed will be reduced if you’re use more than 5GB a month.

Now the company is getting rid of unlimited in favor of plans with fixed data buckets. A company representative told me that they were unsure just how much data the buckets will have, but that pricing/speed breakdown will be roughly similar to what we’ve got today. If you’re an existing customer, you’ll have the option of keeping the unlimited or switching to the new service, which as we’ll see below, might actually save you money.

While some might lament the loss of an unlimited option, the company is trying to make up for it with a new feature that pays you back “penny for penny” for data you don’t use. So if, for example, the data bucket is 4 GB, and you only use 2 GB, you should get something like half your money back as a credit on your next bill.

According to Republic’s numbers, 80 percent of customers will pay the same or less under the new plans. And that’s to be expected, as it’s always been a very small percentage of users who consume the most on unlimited plans. Maybe it makes sense that the rest of us shouldn’t subsidize their data habits.



FWIW: My Tmo unlimited plan throttles at 5GB as well. Not sure if this is a standard or not but it may be another check in the Tmo-as-their-partner box.