We heard last week about a new startup called Republic Wireless, which promises a $19 a month unlimited plan through leveraging Wi-Fi networks wherever possible, and falling back onto Sprint when you're out of Wi-Fi range. True to its word, the service has gone live today — albeit with the now ubiquitous "Beta" tag — allowing users to order an LG Optimus S for $199.99 with no commitments. The catch? Well, there are a couple. Firstly, there is a certain amount of fair use on how much you rely on the cellular network. Republic says that users who use no more than 550 minutes of calls, 150 texts and 300MB of data will be fine, and promises that only regularly heavy users (as compared with the network average) will be "helped to move to another carrier." Secondly, the Wi-Fi / cellular switching system is software-driven and runs constantly, so there's likely to be an impact on your battery.
We've yet to try the service for ourselves, but Republic's parent company Bandwidth.com does have some experience in this field, providing VoIP to a number of large internet services like Google Voice and Livingsocial.