Republic Wireless — a small carrier that’s mostly known for maintaining a wireless service that depends on Wi-Fi, rather than cellular networks, for everything from calling to data — announced that it will pay subscribers back for any unused data remaining in their plans each month.
The carrier plans to do so through Republic Labs, a private beta program for subscribers. According to Republic Wireless, the new plans will be available to beta participants for 4 to 8 weeks before being made available to all of its subscribers. Republic Wireless didn’t reveal pricing for these new plans, though it did say that those who want to remain on its unlimited data plans will be grandfathered in.
Through Republic Labs, Republic Wireless will also begin four other beta tests over the next 9 months:
- Cellular-to-Wi-Fi handover – Handover would let subscribers go automatically from a cellular network to a Wi-Fi network without dropping their calls.
- Next-gen mobile phones – Republic Wireless will allow customers to test different phones that the carrier could launch in the future.
- Seamless multi-device communications – In the vein of Apple’s Continuity feature, Republic Wireless wants to test the ability for its customers to receive and make calls or messages from any device, including tablets and computers.
- Multiple carrier cellular networks – Currently, Republic Wireless partners with Sprint to provide the latter’s network to customers. However, Republic Wireless announced it will partner with a second cellular carrier later this year.
At first blush, these programs would go a long way towards legitimizing Republic Wireless as a true contender in the eyes of those who are looking for affordable wireless plans. With these new programs, Republic Wireless finally rectifies two of its biggest issues: using Sprint’s network as a backup and its rather scant phone selection. As of this writing, the only phones available are the Moto X (2013 and 2014), Moto G (2013), and Moto E (2013).
As for the new data plans, it’ll be interesting to see if the bigger players will take notice and create similar plans down the road. The closest thing other carriers have to a data-leftover-saving initiative are T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s rollover data promotions, which lets you save data you didn’t use last month for the next month.