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Company Offers $19/Month For Voice, Talk Text — With A Catch

Teen On Cell Phone (CBS Photo)

Teen On Cell Phone (CBS Photo)

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(CBS) – How would you like to reduce your cell phone bill to $19 a month?

We’re not talking a bargain basement plan. It includes unlimited voice, texting and data – on an Android smart phone, like this one.

That’s what one new company is promising, but as CBS 2’S Roseanne Tellez reports, of course, there’s a catch.

We asked random cell phone users, “What would you say about a deal that offers unlimited calls, texts and data for 19 bucks a month?”

“Sounds great,” said one man.

The new plan offered by Republic Wireless does sound great.

So what’s the catch? You need to rely primarily on WiFi and can only use one type of phone – the new LG Optimus, which can also access the Sprint cellular network when needed.

“I’d be concerned about quality. There’s not WiFi everywhere,” said cell phone user Tim Davis.

Republic Wireless GM Brian Dally said, “The phone figures out how to use the WiFi. You just do what you do. It’s the hybrid calling that makes it simple.”

But there’s a limit to how many calls and texts you can make using the cellular networks.

Roger Cheng at C-Net, which is owned by CBS, said the phone isn’t for everyone.

“They’re hoping you’re going to stay at home or at Starbucks long enough on the WiFi network that they’ll off-load that traffic,” said Cheng. “If you keep going over that cellular limit they’ll kick you off the service.”

Even if you rely on cellular service now, Dally is banking on big changes in the future.

“We feel very passionately that everyone will be using WiFi in the future and cellular service will be a fall back,” Dally said.

Some cell phone users we talked to agree.

“You see WiFi more and more places these days, eventually everyone will be on WiFi,” Jamie Koerner said.

Another catch: Republic isn’t taking any new customers right now. They said their hybrid calling technology is clearly experimental at this stage. If all goes well, they’ll be offering new spots.

So how big of a bargain is $19 monthly unlimited phone service?

The cheapest rate for comparable cellular service we could find was with T-Mobile for $50 a month, with no contract.