International Travel with a Republic Phone

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We often see questions regarding how Republic service works when traveling outside the U.S. Among the benefits of being a Republic member (Republic likes to call customers members) is the ability to make free (already covered in the cost of all Republic plans) calls to (as well as exchange text messages with) folks back home in the U.S. There are no additional apps needed. All one needs is a WiFi connection.

Here is Republic’s official word on international service. With that said, I would like to offer additional detail (and some options).

Though Republic Wireless doesn’t offer international cellular coverage (a/k/a international roaming); when connected to unrestricted WiFi (calling and/or text messaging is not blocked), you will be able to make and receive calls and exchange text messages with both U.S. and Canadian numbers and otherwise use your phone as if you were home. Mapping apps may be used in “offline” mode. For Google Maps, please see here. HERE WeGo is another popular option.

Republic phones (no matter where physically located) receive calls from U.S. and Canadian numbers. If you need to make and/or receive calls to local (in country other than Canadian) numbers where you’re traveling when connected to WiFi, many make use of third party services such as Google Voice, Rebtel and Skype.

Alternatively, you can use an international calling card with a U.S. access number. International calling cards are commonly sold at convenience stores.



Republic 3.0 Phones

For its 3.0 phones (any phone being used with Republic other than a Moto DEFY XT, E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 or X2), Republic provisions coverage with one of two cellular networks. One network is GSM. The other network is CDMA. Outside the U.S. CDMA networks are virtually non-existent. Therefore, it’s critical when traveling internationally that one’s Republic phone be provisioned with a GSM SIM. Equipping your phone with a Republic GSM SIM will not provide cellular coverage outside the U.S. Doing so will prevent your phone from presenting a cellular configuration error that renders the phone inoperable even when using it on WiFi.

Your phone may or may not currently be provisioned with a Republic GSM SIM. To find out, please follow Republic’s guidance here: How to Tell If a Phone Is Active on GSM or CDMA. If your phone is already on GSM, you’re good to go and will be able to use Republic service when connected to WiFi. If your phone is on CDMA, please request a GSM SIM by asking an Expert or opening a ticket. If you’ve been directed to this article as the result of a conversation with one of Republic’s Community Experts, there is no need to open a ticket. Please simply respond to the Expert who directed your here.

You’ll want to activate that GSM SIM in place of the CDMA SIM currently in your phone prior to leaving U.S. soil. As a reliable WiFi connection is required, I suggest doing so before leaving for the airport (or seaport). Upon return to the U.S., you may reverse the process and reactivate your CDMA SIM as it likely provides superior coverage at home.

If cellular service outside the U.S. is desired, Republic 3.0 phones provide the option of using a local (in country) SIM to provide cellular coverage where you’re traveling. You’d switch between Republic service on WiFi and local cellular service by swapping SIM cards. A great online resource for locating a service provider where one will be traveling is here. Another excellent resource is: Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki. Don’t let the reference to Data SIM concern you. The Wiki covers SIMs that provide talk and text as well as cell data.

Legacy Republic Phones

For legacy Republic phones (Moto E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 or X2), you might temporarily switch to Republic’s $5 WiFi only plan. This will save some money while on your trip. More to the point, doing so will make sure that your text messages reach you while out of the country. If you don’t switch to the WiFi only plan you may not receive your text messages as Republic Wireless will attempt to route them to your phone via Sprint’s cellular network, which you can’t access. This is the nature of Republic’s blended WiFi/cell technology. For more on ensuring receipt of text messages, please scroll to the Republic Anywhere heading.

Depending on your current plan, you may need to wait for your bill cycle date before changing your plan to the $5 WiFi only plan will take effect. If uncertain which set of grandfathered plans is in use on your phone, please open the Republic app and note the words describing your current plan underneath your phone number.

If among those words you see “Talk & Text” with or without reference to cellular data, please see here. Your plan change will be almost immediate, so you might want to make this among the last things you do as you prepare to leave U.S. soil.

If among those words you see “Base Plan” or “Republic Refund”, please see here. Please note the plan change will not take effect until your next bill cycle date.

Additionally, I suggest placing your phone in Airplane mode then manually reenabling WiFi. Doing so will help preserve battery life otherwise wasted while your phone attempts to locate a cellular signal it’s incapable of connecting to.

If cellular access is a must while traveling, you might consider renting a phone for that purpose.

DEFY XT

There isn’t much to do when traveling internationally with your DEFY XT. Your DEFY has one all everything plan that cannot be changed and does not provide cellular access outside the U.S. Just as it does at home, your DEFY will use available WiFi.

To preserve battery life, I suggest placing your phone in Airplane mode then manually reenabling WiFi.

If cellular access is a must while traveling, you might consider renting a phone for that purpose.

Republic Anywhere

Anywhere is Republic’s proprietary text messaging app built specifically for Republic members. Use of Anywhere is not required, however, more on why one might consider doing so is here.

When traveling internationally, use of Anywhere is the best way for legacy phone (Moto E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 and X2) users to ensure receipt of text messages while out of the country. For those using a Republic Refund plan, use of Anywhere removes the obstacle of needing to wait for one’s bill cycle date in order to send and receive text messages outside the U.S. Thanks to Google, installing Anywhere on a legacy phone is a bit challenging but an excellent tutorial is linked here.

For those using newer 3.0 phones and a local (in country) SIM while outside the U.S., there’s an additional benefit as well. You will be able to send and receive text messages using your Republic number with the local SIM resident in your phone. This works both when connected to WiFi and when using the local SIM’s cell data connection. This benefit does come with the caveat one will not be able to send and receive text messages using the number of the local SIM while using Anywhere. It is possible to send and receive text messages using the number of the local SIM by changing the default app on one’s phone to something other than Anywhere (for example Messages by Google). Toggling default messaging apps is necessary if one wishes to switch back and forth between sending and receiving messages using one’s Republic number and the number of the local SIM. Calls using the local SIM’s number and use of cell data are not impacted by use of Anywhere.

Upon your return home, please consider sharing your experience by leaving a comment. Have a safe and enjoyable trip!

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What seems to have been left out of the discussion is, “Does the US phone you want to use overseas have the capability to connect electronically to wireless networks that use different frequencies and bands than those used in the US?” iPhones typically have the greatest capability for connecting to frequencies and bands outside of the US, most Android phones less so. If you are headed to Europe without an iPhone, I suggest you plan on picking up a phone once there. Of the many service providers in Europe, I have had the best luck with T-Mobile, especially as roaming fees within the EU countries are being phased out.

I wouldn’t necessarily agree that iPhones are better for use internationally than Android phones and I’ve traveled with and used both. It’s a fair point that one should confirm compatibility of one’s phone with the cellular networks where one is traveling and Republic advises doing just that: https://community.republicwireless.com/docs/DOC-2912-republic-wireless-30-faqs#jive_content_id_International. Quoting with emphasis added:

Do Republic Wireless Clear Choice plans include international?

No. However, you can use any Republic Wireless phone on WiFi anywhere in the world to call or text to U.S. and Canadian phone numbers (For 3.0 phones, you’ll need to keep your Republic SIM card installed). Additionally, if you’re traveling and wish to use a local provider’s SIM (either domestic or international), you can switch them out as you need to. Just make sure to keep your Republic service line active (meaning you keep making payments) so that when you come back, your service and phone number will still be there. You’ll also want to check and make sure that the other provider’s SIM will work with your phone.

Another great resource here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/WorldwideFormatted.pdf. Having traveled internationally with both Androids and iPhones, this I believe is a bit extreme:

If you are headed to Europe without an iPhone, I suggest you plan on picking up a phone once there.

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Nearly every one of the currently offered Republic phones have the same overseas bands as the iPhone. You’re way off.

Just some examples:

iPhone 7: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/11/12/13/17/18/19/20/21/25/26/27/28/29/30/38/39/40/41

Nexus 5X: 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/25/26/29/38/39/40/41

Nexus 6P: B2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/30/38/39/40/41

Moto G5+: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/25/26/38/41/66

Samsung Galaxy S7: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/18/19/20/25/26/29/30/38/39/40/41

Main LTE frequencies used in Europe: 3/7/20 (Covered by all the above phones)

Main LTE frequencies used in Japan: 3/7/20/41 (Covered by all the above phones)

Bottom line, your assertion that traveling with the iPhone is somehow more reliable for overseas coverage is well, just wrong. Even the mid-range G5+ has all the bands necessary for LTE (and has the frequencies required for 2G and 3G worldwide).

6 Likes

@jeffc.1xryfh, your statement of needing an iPhone is completely and totally false. For full disclosure, this is coming from a big hater of all things Apple, but I can backup my assertion to this fact with technical specs.

iPhone 7 and 7 plus cell network capabilities:

FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)
TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900, 2100 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Pulled this from the Apple website linked here: iPhone 7 - Technical Specifications - Apple

A popular phone here on the Republic network the Moto X Pure, but almost two years old in comparison to Apple’s current flagship:

GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700 (AWS),1900, 2100 MHz)
CDMA (800, 850, 1900 MHz)
4G LTE (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 41)

Pulled from Motorola: Moto X Pure Edition (2015) - Unlocked Smartphone - Motorola

The most important parts of this is the GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequency (most domestic and international carriers use this for voice channel unless they have LTE calling like T Mobile). There is no difference. There is some difference in the LTE bands, but should still be sufficient with the Moto X Pure for overseas data.

Now for a more fair comparison, the Samsung S7 Edge:

Frequencies and Data Type

2G GSM: GSM850,GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
3G UMTS: B1(2100), B2(1900), B4(AWS), B5(850)
3G TD-SCDMA: B34(2010), B39(1880)
4G FDD LTE: B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900), B12(700), B18(800), B19(800), B20(800),B29(700), B30(2300)
4G TDD LTE: B38(2600), B39(1900), B40(2300), B41(2500)

Virtually no difference. A few LTE bands. More than sufficient for overseas travel. The bands that aren’t included on the S7 are for good reason. They aren’t being used by hardly anyone. I hate using Wiki as a source, but you can fact check it if you like.

LTE frequency bands - Wikipedia

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Will Republic Wireless be adding international calling capabilities anytime soon? Thanks.

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Hi @aarona.9l6u4c,

I’m not a Republic Wireless employee, so can’t say definitively whether Republic has plans one way or the other for adding international calling. I know of no imminent plans to do so. Historically, in my experience, Republic doesn’t generally announce future plans.

Meanwhile, there are third party services capable of filling the gap at modest expense. More information here: Adding International Calling to Your Republic Phone | Republic Wireless Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia.

Hi Republic forum, glad that you are here.

I want to ensure that I understand how this would work. I have a Motorola X Pure (new, 3.0 Clear Choice plan), so if I want to get a line and data on a trip to Canada, I would

  1. remove the Republic Wireless SIM card from the device, and replace it with one from a Canadian company, and BAM, I’ve got a Canadian phone line and a data plan, and maybe GPS functionality. Is this correct?

  2. When I want to use my ReWi phone in a WiFi area, I would simply remove the Canadian SIM card, and replace it with the ReWi SIM and my phone is back to normal. Is this correct?

Thank you, and I look forward to your reply.

1 Like

Hi @gerryz,

You are correct, sir!

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Thanks rolandh!

Gonna try this in Canada this year and in Europe next year!

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So… I’ll be traveling to the Dominican Republic at the end of September. How do I make sure I can use my phone there? New to this “international” stuff, so any help you can give a novice, is greatly appreciated :wink:

hi @n8vspud
which phone do you have
if not a 3.0 phone it will only work on WiFi to call home with out a 3rd party app(or calling card) which will allow the local numbers at the 3rd party cost (note this will still be on WiFi only)

3.0 phones have the option of picking up a local SIM swapping out that to use local cell tower and make local calls (swapping back in the Republic SIM will enable WiFi calls back to the US and Canada)

Bottom line, your phone, with Republic service, can’t work on cellular outside the US. While on unrestricted Wifi, it’ll work just like at home.

If you have one of the newer phones (not the legacy Republic specific Moto X1, X2, G1, G3, E1 or E2) you can use a local SIM card in the phone to get cellular service from a local provider while there. With the other SIM card in the phone, you won’t be able to use the wifi calling from Republic until you put the SIM back.

So if the resort I’m staying at has wi-fi, then I should be good with my Moto G4 being able to access to make text or phone calls? and then if I leave the resort, have to have a SIM Card or just be “unplugged” for awhile :wink:

I have the new Moto G4

If your resort has wifi that doesn’t block calling/texting, then yes, you are correct.

the Moto G4 is a 3.0 phone
Like all Republic phones on open WiFi one will be able to call US and Canadian Numbers as if it was in the US
with the Moto G4

if you need to call local numbers one can do so via third party apps at there current rates for that location

3.0 also can have the SIM swap with a local SIM and make calls via the local SIM’s Plan on the local Towers

I live in both the UK and the US and have RW (Moto G something or other but it’s an Android phone), just to make it pefectly clear, RW do NOT offer international calling, however, if you have Wi-Fi service when in the UK (as I do), you can use your RW phone as though at home in the US. My RW phone is on in the UK and connected to my Wi-Fi service and people call me and I call them but ONLY US / Canadian numbers either way. Hope this helps. PS I have no idea why this discussion went off on a tangent about frequencies and LTE coverage when outside of the US - IT DOES NOT WORK WHEN OUTSIDE OF THE USA - ONLY WI-FI WORKS.

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Hi @adrians.n18ggb,

It’s true that Republic’s service and its’ legacy phones (Moto E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 and X2) will only work when on WiFi outside the U.S. Having said that, Republic’s new 3.0 phones will work on cellular networks outside the U.S. via local (in country) SIMs. For example, I’ve used multiple Republic 3.0 phones with a Three (a provider I’m confident you’re familiar with) SIM. When traveling outside the U.S. with a Republic 3.0 phone, one has the option of switching between Republic service on WiFi and local cellular service by swapping SIMs.

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Damn! I was told they don’t work outside of the US on cell service, only Wi-Fi, obviously I have old information so my apologies for that if I am wrong. I am indeed familiar with Three, they are my UK service provider, it doesn’t change the fact though that the RW SIM doesn’t work outside of the US, is that correct? If you have to change the SIM to a local provider for the country you are in, then as I see it, RW doesn’t work on cell service in that country or am I really missing something? I agree the phone will work wherever the GSM service is available but if you have to change SIM’s then RW does not work outside of the US on cell service, in this particular case, Three does. Maybe I was right, RW does not work on cell outside of the US but DOES work on Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. I don’t know how many other ways I can say it.

2 Likes