Raleigh-based Republic Wireless, a five-year-old company that at launch was among the first telecommunications providers to offer WiFi-based calling, is spinning out as a separate company from parent Bandwidth.
Bandwidth at the same time made what Republic customers was called a “major investment.” Both companies are based in Raleigh.
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Republic customers learned of the news through an email sent early Thursday.
“With this new investment in hand, we have even bigger ambitions on how we can better serve you. Our best days are ahead of us, and we can’t wait to share them with you,” said Chris Chuang, who will serve as CEO of the stand-alone venture. Chuang had been chief operating officer and is one of Republic’s founders.
Bandwidth invested $30 million in Republic, which will remain based in Raleigh, according to an announcement made about the same time the email was sent to Republic customers.
David Morken, one of the original leaders at Bandwidth, had spearheaded launch of Republic as its CEO. His idea for a WiFi-based service came from frustration with high costs for standard wireless services. He remains chairman of Republic.
“Five years ago, when we publicly launched our Republic Wireless beta, many in the industry laughed at the notion that a new carrier could succeed with a WiFi first strategy. Fast forward to today, with our award-winning plans starting at just $15 and 45+ patents we own for key WiFi calling breakthroughs like Adaptive Coverage, we see a market where every major carrier plus a host of new entrants are now attempting to deliver WiFi calling to their customers as well,” Morken said in a statement.
“.While I will remain actively involved in Republic as Chairman of the Board, it is with great pleasure that I hand day-to-day leadership over to my friend and co-founder Chris Chuang who has played an instrumental role in Republic’s success from day one.”
Republic helped pioneer an offering that includes leasing network spectrum from a large national provider (Sprint) and combining that wil WiFi based technology. As long as phones were within reach of free WiFi networks, that’s where Republic customers accessed the network.
The lower costs enabled Republic to offer flat-rate pricing at much lower cost that larger providers.
Over time, Bandwidth offered a greater variety of plans, services and earlier this year began providing customers with a wider choice of phones.
According to Chuang, the spin-out meant “lots of green confetti thrown, high-fiving, and cake on our end.”
The only change facing customers “for now” is “assigning your Terms and Conditions to Republic Wireless (they were previously with the legal entity of Bandwidth), effective as of the date of this email,” he added.
“You’ll still receive the same great, affordable phone service from Republic as we continue our mission to provide remarkably simple and affordable ways to help people stay in touch anywhere, anytime, any way.”