Everybody was excited last year about Republic Wireless, “the mobile network that runs on freedom”, and its hybrid wireless service, with unlimited calling, texting, and data for just $19 per month. In spite of the enthusiastic welcome, the communications provider encountered a few bumps on its road to mainstream popularity.
Republic was only able to pair a modestly equipped phone (first the LG Optimus S and now the Motorola Defy XT) with its innovative service. In addition, the new service encountered a hardware glitch with the Defy XT that affected some users.
Specifically, Motorola’s 3.7-incher ran in the 1,900 MHz band, which allowed it to roam on all towers that operate on the 1900 MHz frequency, but not on 800 MHz towers. The 800 MHz cellular bands stopped being the standard several years ago, but there are still areas in the United States that rely primarily on this type of service.
Upon receiving complaints from users unable to use their Defy XT while traveling to areas without WiFi signal and with 800 MHz-based cellular networks, Republic Wireless found that the problem “only affects a small portion of our members”. Still, the North Carolina-based carrier quickly got together with Motorola to find a solution to the issue — a dual-band version of the Defy XT.
“We’ve jointly determined with Motorola that this is a path that we can pursue” announced Republic in an official post on the company’s blog, so a Defy XT with an additional 800 MHz antenna will be coming “later this year”.
Republic Wireless users will be offered the chance to upgrade for free or get a full refund with no questions asked. Subscribers in waves B through E will have until October 25 to decide if they’re happy with the quality of services or if they need additional roaming coverage.
Meanwhile, Wave A members that still use the LG Optimus S can upgrade to the single-band Defy XT for free or wait for the dual-band version, which will be available with $100 off. Finally, users in waves F and beyond will be able to purchase the single-band Defy XT starting this week, with the dual-band phone also coming soon.
Besides adding the 800 MHz support, Republic is yet to announce any tweak or improvement to the Defy XT, so the new version should come with a single-core 1 GHz Snapdragon S1 processor, 512 MB of RAM, a 3.7-inch LCD touchscreen with 854 x 480 pixels resolution, Android 2.3, as well as protection against water, scratches, and dust.
All in all, even if Republic Wireless should have thought about the 800 MHz network issue from the get-go, it’s still nice to see the carrier making an effort to make amends with customers. Do you agree?