Dumb move, Katie.
I had 30 days to test out my Republic Wireless phone and make sure I liked it, and I didn’t switch over my number until day 24 or so. I figured I’d just test it out, make sure it worked fine, and no problem. Hopefully I wouldn’t need to return the phone.
In hindsight, had I used the phone the full 30 days, I probably would have cut my plan short, returned the phone and done something different for cell service and data plan.
Here’s the deal:
The problem is that Republic actually runs calls and texts through wireless connections when available and only uses cell towers when on the go. I was hoping, because of my skepticism about wireless and EMFs, that I could still use the phone in a basic fashion with the wireless and data off. All I need to be “permanently connected” are calls and texts; I’ve never been one who cared about email or social media notifications on her phone.
The plan is awesome because you don’t pay for anything that goes over WiFi, so if you’re home a lot (I feel like I never leave the house!), it’s incredibly inexpensive. Which I wanted! But I didn’t want to increase my risk of cancer because I had to have WiFi and EMFs in my pocket all day long…so I started digging.
RELATED: How to Sanitize Your Cell Phone
So Will Republic Wireless Still Receive Calls or Texts When off WiFi?
From what I could understand reading their online materials, I thought I should be able to have the wireless off and just hit a cell tower for texts at least, and if a call came in, I could answer and just pay a few cents in data for short calls, or turn my WiFi on and call someone back (my Mom!) for longer calls. I’m a pretty simple gal, and that didn’t seem like too much of an inconvenience.
Before we jumped in with Republic, I attempted to get my question answered via their online forums (in place to cut costs on customer support, which they pass to consumers, lowering our bills). Nobody answered.
I went to regular customer support, understanding that the wait time would be at least a few days (didn’t care), and emailed this:
I’m wary of EMFs – I prefer to keep my phone’s wireless off unless I actually need it. Would I still be able to receive calls and texts? I could turn it on to make a call.
You mentioned that you like to keep your wireless off when you are not using it and that is completely up to you. With the plans that we offer, you are welcome to use your device while over WiFi or over a cellular network.
And then there was a rather long copy-and-paste stock answer about their plan, how the data is billed and measured, etc.
I interpreted this (incorrectly) to mean that with my WiFi off, the phone would act like a regular cell phone without data. A “cellular network” to me meant cell towers, for calls.
No Dice, Wary Lady – The Cell Data is Required with Republic
As it turns out, the phone itself thwarted my plans.
I can turn off the WiFi no problem, which is good for when I’m out and unable to connect with a free Hot Spot. Then my phone isn’t constantly searching, which both slows everything down and likely drains the battery faster.
However, when I try to turn off the “cellular data” it immediately goes right back on, like this:
If I go deeper into the settings, there’s no override. I get this message:
Mobile data disabled
Turning the Android mobile data setting to Off can cause problems with your Republic service such as delayed SMS, MMS messages, and voicemail. Further, your calling experience will be degraded. The Data Saver feature within the Republic application is available to prevent applications from using cellular data.
I press “ok” and the cellular data comes back on. No override. Even if I leave wireless ON, I can’t turn cellular data off, so there are always 2 pieces pulsing and connecting afar.
The only way for me to avoid the EMFs being right in my pocket is to go full airplane mode, which turns everything off but then I also can’t send or receive texts or calls at all. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a phone.
I do still use airplane mode, especially when it’s not important to me to be reached by phone, like when I’m working and at a computer where people who matter could contact me in other ways…but then when I finally remember to turn the WiFi back on, any texts I missed come in with that timestamp, not the time they were sent, so I never know quite how late I am in replying. I’m a pretty annoying friend, I bet!
Since I only had a few days to figure this out, I didn’t. I didn’t get it and hadn’t taken the time to dig in. I hadn’t even made any calls while on the move (they often drop, FYI).
And when I DO want to use Instagram or Facebook on my phone when I’m away from home, I have to fiddle with cellular data settings before I can do it – it’s smart to leave those apps off on data most of the time, just to make sure the apps aren’t constantly communicating with your phone and running up your data plan. But when I want to use them, it takes forever to get the settings right to do it.
So I’m stuck with the phone, which I hate. It was my choice, and I’ll have to live with that for a while, but I am extremely disappointed that (a) it was so hard to find the answer I was looking for and (b) that the phone has more control than I do over what signals it’s sending out.
I left this review on the phone itself and was notified that it was not allowed to be published. So I’m publishing it. (And yes, that feels quite good.)
Republic Wireless Saves Cash…but at What Cost?
I can’t lie and say that I don’t grin when I see the bills for my husband’s and my cell/data plans – we spend less than $15/month each and make as many calls, texts and data stuff as we want.
We’re home a lot, which helps – but it can’t be denied that it’s an insane deal.
My husband would probably never turn his WiFi off with any plan, so it was an easy decision to go with Republic for him. For me, I’m sure I’m exposed to more EMFs this way than with my old SmartPhone.
Will EMFs hurt me? I am not positive, but I am concerned. I’d rather be safe than sorry, so now I’m left looking into the myriad of products that claim to protect humans from EMF radiation or the effects.
If you do think Republic Wireless is the right choice for your family – like I said, I love how frugal it is – please visit my friend Tiffany’s post to learn more and use her link to give her commission!
See more about how technology is affecting you (and your kids!) Yikes!
If you appreciated the balance and depth of the review you just read, you will love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!