Republic Wireless sent out an email today regarding an update to their policy for data roaming which they said took a lot of consideration and analysis of their services overall data usage. Republic states that since only 1.7% of its users account for 60% of their wireless data roaming charges, it seemed fair to reduce roaming access to those users in order to maintain lower costs for the rest of the member base that doesn’t access data roaming.
In the email they state the following changes beginning on September 15th, 2014:
we will begin reducing wireless data roaming speeds and we will be lowering the wireless data roaming allotment to 25MB per billing cycle.
Once the 25MB allotment is achieved, no additional wireless data roaming will be available during the remainder of the billing cycle. Upon the start of the next billing cycle, 25MB will again be available for use during that billing cycle.
These changes will NOT affect your use of wireless data in on-network areas, your use of data over WiFi in roaming areas, or your use of either voice or text while roaming.
So to recap, data roaming is still free but only up to 25MB per billing cycle which seems fair to me especially for a low cost cell phone plan. In addition, it should be noted that both voice and text still have free unlimited roaming which is nice.
To figure out if this effects you at all you’ll want to check your roaming data usage by either looking at the Republic App on your Moto phone or checking your account information on the Republic Wireless website page.
If I look at my own roaming data usage it is very low most months, less than 0.5 MB since most of the time I’m connected to a wifi service or on the Sprint network which Republic operates on, however last month while on vacation in upstate New York I racked up more than 40 MB of roaming data… opps! It’s something to pay attention to when you are traveling that’s for sure.
Roaming charges are a tricky and highly sensitive topic for both wireless carriers and customers alike. Since roaming on other networks can be very costly, most MVNOs don’t touch this issue with a ten foot pole. However, there is one mobile virtual network operator that does allow roaming without any additional cost to the customer and that is Republic Wireless.
As of the time of this writing (08/01/14) the roaming charge policy for Republic is as follows:
“Our policy accounts for the inevitable (and very natural) fluctuation in data usage of our members and considers both the usage rates on the Sprint network and our roaming partners. Bottom line—you won’t get dinged for going over a month or two and you won’t ever see “roaming charges” as a line item on your monthly bill.”
That said, recent attempted policy changes to Republic Wireless roaming charges has caused a stir on the RW community boards lately. There was so much feedback that Republic released a blog announcement stating their policy reversal, in which they’d go back to not charging customers or their policy of limiting sales to areas with poor network coverage (aka high roaming charge areas).
One thing is for certain, Republic Wireless will certainly need to figure out a way to handle roaming without incurring ridiculous costs from their partner networks while also not ticking off their customers. To get an idea of how much roaming can cost them consider this amazing anecdote:
Roaming data makes up a disproportionate amount of our total costs and these costs are continuing to increase. For those that do use roaming data, it only takes a few outliers to incur thousands of dollars each in costs. Just three customers cost us $17,000 in roaming charges in June. This is despite our efforts to enforce our data usage policies with the cellular network tools we currently have.
Holy crap, $17,000 in roaming costs for just three customers! It is this type of usage, where a customer paying $25-$40 per month for unlimited data can really screw up a carrier’s bottom line when they rack up thousands of dollars in roaming charges every month. It is these kinds of examples where you start to understand why some carriers will throttle customers data usage if they start to go over a certain amount.
While Republic is trying to retain its relations with customers by not charging for roaming, it seems that this business practice will be unsustainable in the long run. Thus if you are a Republic Wireless customer that uses a lot of roaming data then you should try to be more mindful of this when using your phone, especially since you are already getting a great deal to begin with.
One of the reasons Republic Wireless is able to offer such cheap cell phone plans is due to their wireless handover technology. If people continue to rack up huge data roaming costs for them then the gravy train will assuredly be over. Unless there are any new laws or regulations passed by the FCC that limits roaming data rates in the future, I could see Republic either abandoning roaming ability altogether or charging a particular data rate for the costs incurred.
What’s your opinion on Republic Wireless roaming charges? Let us know in the comments below.