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Strategically-Used Devices

One of the many advantages of the Ting pricing plan is that you can spend very little on a device that you use sparingly. You pay just $6 a month to keep that device active. You only pay for usage at all if it pushes your total account into a new bucket. If it is your only device, the buckets start at just $3 a month. You can use just one kind of service (voice, data, text) and leave the others at $0. Of course, if you do want to ramp up your usage at any time, the plan is there to accommodate you fairly.

In the context of choices out there, it’s the flexibility you might get from pre-paid with the efficiencies (account sharing), ease of use (no topping up), features and support you expect from an account on a major carrier.

Since launch, we have heard a bunch of great stories from customers about strategically-used Ting devices. A couple of these were in the “wow, we never even thought of that” category for us so I figured I’d share them.

The Leash

There were a bunch of moms and dads at our meetup in LA this week talking about this. They’re not quite ready to hand over a phone entirely to their kids (at which point, they will appreciate the visibility, alerts and administrative control they get in the new Ting dashboard), but they do want to be able to stay in touch with them after dropping them off at a movie or the mall. So, we’re talking around age 12 here. The feature phone (or maybe low end smartphone) comes out of the drawer when they need it and back in the drawer when they don’t.

The Backup

This one came from our buddies Robert and Carmela over at The Bike Stop in Philly. (No, I didn’t just Rick Roll you. That’s the site.) They have cable and Wifi at the bar and they rely heavily on data for crucial functions like credit card processing and inventory management. They realized that they should probably have a Plan B. So they keep a Huawei hotspot by the register. If they need it, they turn it on and tether all their machines to it. The usage simply gets pooled with the Ting smartphones they use every day. If they don’t need it, it’s $6 a month.

The Passport

It turns out we solve a big problem for people who don’t live in the US but spend a ton of time here for business or pleasure. People like our Canadian friend Amber MacArthur. (It’s my blog post and I’ll name drop if I want to.) These folks have either been living in the world of pre-paid (topping up, expiring minutes, random fees), enduring ungodly roaming charges or just going offline between landlines and Wifi. With Ting, they get their “US phone” set up to work just like their everyday phone and they’re all set. Or maybe they tether their everyday phone to their Ting phone and just use the Ting phone for voice. (Either way, they need to remember to shut off data roaming on both phones so they don’t end up getting slammed on the wrong side of the border.)

Right now, non-US residents can only activate a Ting phone on the site if they have a US credit card. It is on our backlog to make this available for everyone on the site.

My Dad

I’ll use my own example here. “Dad, we don’t have to synchronize watches. I’ll call you when I’m walking up to the stadium.” “OK, I’ll try to remember to turn my phone on.” “Why don’t you just keep your phone on?” “I don’t know, I don’t want to rack up charges for any reason.” “Are you planning on butt-dialing Bolivia? I’m one of like three people that knows your cellphone number.” “We have a small plan and I don’t want to get hit with overages.” Ah, yes, overages. Now, to be clear, putting a senior parent on your plan means putting yourself in the role of account administrator and customer support. It’s a generous thing to do. To be honest, I haven’t done it yet.

If anyone has more examples of how the Ting plans have helped solve a particular problem (or maybe examples of problems that nobody seems to be solving just yet), please let us know.

Ting: The best business mobile plan
(if we do say so ourselves)

Today we’re taking the wraps off the Ting for business pages to explain the benefits of Ting and mobile that makes sense for businesses big and small.

When we first launched Ting, we knew it would be an ideal service for businesses. When we started talking about redesigning the Ting account control panel, much of the discussion for how it should work focussed on plans with multiple devices under management. Going beyond just family use and thinking about what happens when accounts have 10, 20, even 100 devices sharing pooled usage. With the new control panel available to use now, we’re redoubling our efforts to demonstrate that Ting can be the perfect choice for business mobile. We explain in more depth in our Ting for business pages.

In addition to the Ting for business pages, we also created a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculator spreadsheet that lays out just how much money a business could save by moving to Ting for mobile service. After all, if there’s one thing businesses love it’s a good spreadsheet… to say nothing of a killer ROI. This TCO Worksheet lets would-be business switchers run all the numbers, including having multiple partners or employees each with their own device, and expensing their own monthly wireless bills. The TCO worksheet factors Ting device purchases in to the equation to demonstrate that purchasing outright as opposed to getting deep discounted subsidized devices and back-loaded contracts is the better way to go.

Ting for business video

A perfect business mobile plan

Aside from an online account control panel that scales effortlessly whether you have one or 100 devices on a Ting account, many of the benefits families are already realizing from Ting also scale nicely to businesses: Shared usage between an unlimited number of devices, granular device-level control, incredibly reasonable rates for minutes, messages and megabytes of data. No limits and no wasteful bundles or unlimited plans. No overages or penalties. Rates that get better the more you use. You’ve probably heard the spiel.

Forward-thinking businesses are already experiencing Ting’s benefits. For them, the new control panel is a natural evolution and the business-specific points we make on the Ting for business pages are already being realized each month.

Business users still pick from the same buckets of minutes, messages and megabytes. We’re not changing the Ting model. Rather, we’re laying clear specifically how the Ting model makes fiscal sense for businesses.

Airave in-bound to Ting

If you’ve found the fringes of the mobile network and you need a bit of a coverage boost at home or in the office, this one’s for you. We just got final confirmation that we’ll be able to add the Airave to our list of Ting devices. Expect the Airave to hit the Ting devices page next week at an introductory sale price of $190.

For those unfamiliar with the Airave, it plugs in to your high-speed modem or router and routes calls and text messages using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In short, you’ll get more signal bars in more places around the house and in turn, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Airave pricing

While we’re actively pursuing making secondhand Airave devices work on the Ting network, unfortunately you’ll have to purchase an Airave from us in order to use it with Ting phone for the time being.

The typical $6/mo. per device fee will NOT apply to an Airave on your Ting account.

Minutes and messages used count toward your chosen plan level. Megabytes of data would also come out of your chosen plan bucket … but you’d have to be crazy to use your mobile data connection when you’re so close to your (presumably) wireless router.

Airave setup

As with a Wi-Fi router, you may need to play with placement in order to get the strongest possible signal all over your home or office.

Airaves purchased through Ting will ship “hot,” which means they’re ready to plug in and begin broadcasting your new stronger mobile signal soon after unboxing.

If you’re anything like us, your first thought upon hearing about the Airave might have been to grab one and take it on the road to enjoy local calling and texting rates (avoiding roaming) wherever you have an active Internet connection. Afraid it’s no dice on that front: The Airave has protections in it to avoid just this scenario. It must be physically located in the USA and have a view of at least one tower in order to come online. Even a very weak tower signal will work. In addition to ensuring that the Airave is being used as intended, this geolocation process also facilitates 911 emergency location services.

Stay tuned to the Ting devices page, follow us on Twitter and / or hook up with Ting on Facebook to get the latest.

Six ways Ting makes for the perfect mobile business plan

Ting is the best mobile plan for businesses, if we do say so ourselves. Many of the things that make Ting the best mobile family plan are the same things have real value for businesses too.

Unlimited devices on one plan

Our unlimited devices on one plan idea is unique in the industry and seems purpose-built for business. Whether it’s a team of two or a team of 200, everyone can get the phone or data stick they need. Each device on a plan costs $6 per month.

No overage penalties

With a bunch of people and devices accessing the same shared pool of minutes, messages and megabytes, the chances of busting out of your plan level are greater. If you use more than you thought you would, Ting doesn’t penalize. We’ll just bump you up to the next service level. If you use less, we’ll bump you down and credit the difference on your next bill.

Individual device control

If we as a mobile service provider have access to a setting like turning voicemail on or off, enabling or disabling international roaming, tethering, data, SMS, MMS and so on, you have the same access. Individual devices under a plan can be individually controlled in the Ting control panel.

Consolidated billing

Rather than juggling a bunch of different mobile business plans for different members of the team you see all charges for all phones in one clean, clear bill. Ting’s electronic bills can be digitally filed away and are saved in your account dashboard whenever you want to see them.

Data only devices and plans

At Ting HQ, we have several data sticks and hotspots that anyone on the team can grab when travelling. Rather than relying on spotty hotel Wi-Fi or worse, the wireless network in a convention center, we’re able to connect from just about anywhere. When it’s business-critical you’re online, there’s no replacement for your own connection.

Great rates

Comparing the mean price per minute, message or megabyte which we’ve done previously here on the Ting blog, Ting comes out a winner. You pay $0.02 per voice minute, $0.0025 per text message and $0.0225 per megabyte of data once you bust out of the XXL service levels.

Run the numbers and see for yourself. Take what you currently pay for your business mobile plans and see how much you’d save with the Ting cost calculator.

Data only mobile plans and data only devices

Ting’s data only mobile plans come in super handy when travelling… whether travelling means touching down in a new city or whether it just means getting out of the office for an afternoon to work in a park or other less office-y locale.

Travelling and filing updates back to home base has become much easier now that I always travel with a data only device. I’ve been using the MiFi 2200 to connect my various devices to the web and it’s been invaluable. Even at the recent CES 2012 tradeshow where over 100,000 geeks descended on Las Vegas and proceeded to slow networks to a crawl, I was able to regularly and reliably send updates back to the office.

You can also use Ting for your tablet! If you’re interested, check out our list of compatible tablets.

Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot

Ting’s Data Only Plans

Making a Ting plan into a data-only plan is simple:

If you only plan to use Ting for data and have no intention of using voice call minutes or text messages, make sure to disable everything in both the Minutes and Messaging sections.

Activated devices on your account cost $6 per month and you can have as many devices as you want on one plan.

If you’ve already got a data only plan from another carrier, try the Ting Calculator to see how much Ting can save you. If you’re looking for a data only plan, take a look at Ting’s data-only devices and Ting’s rates, with particular attention to the Megabytes section.

How and When Do I Get an Android Update?

Fragmentation in the Android camp is a fact of life. There are several versions of the Android operating system (OS) that are in active deployment. There are versions of the OS, modified to differing degrees, running on a host of devices including tablets, set top boxes, PCs and, of course, smartphones.

Android is open source which means anyone can grab the code and adapt it to fit their ends. That’s a good thing for a whole host of reasons which we won’t delve into right now. It also has its downsides.

Pie chart - Goole Android use by version
SOURCE: developer.android.com

According to Google’s own data, the most popular version of its Android OS is Gingerbread, 2.3 at 62%. Froyo, Android 2.2, claims about 25% and the newest version, Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, is only really starting out at 1.6% penetration. This data was collected by Google over a 14-day period ending March 5, 2012. They simply tallied the number of devices that accessed the erstwhile Android Market (since re-badged Google Play) using these different Android versions.

Why Are There So Many Versions of Android Floating Around?

The list above is just the official versions of stock Android. There are other forks within these versions with things like HTC’s Sense skin, Motorola’s MotoBLUR and Samsung’s TouchWiz interfaces running atop Android. While these may add useful features — badge notifications on apps in Samsung’s TouchWiz for example — they also add another step between smartphones and the latest Android updates. Once Android receives an official update, it has to be tweaked and tested to run with the manufacturer’s hardware and modifications. Even devices running stock Android aren’t immune, though the update process is simpler in this case.

Once the phone manufacturer has released its modified build, it’s the carrier’s turn to begin tweaking and testing.

Stock Android supports all cellular bands. Carriers need to tweak Android to work best on their own wireless bands and to maximize battery life by cutting out unsupported bands. Often, they’ll use this opportunity to also pre-install their own apps and other tweaks as well.

This is another barrier between your phone and the latest Android update.

The update process — from initial release to a notification popping up on your phone letting you know a new update is available — can be looked at as a tree.

Android is the trunk. Different versions are forks. Manufacturers are branches. Carriers are twigs. The end result, the update that eventually comes your way via an over the air update to your phone, is an acorn. Your phone is a … squirrel or something. The latter part of this metaphor is clearly not going the way I had hoped. The larger point stands.

So… When Do I Get my Android Update?

It’s frustrating to us that we can’t offer a hard and fast answer to this completely reasonable question. Basically, updates are released when the phone manufacturer has adapted Android to run perfectly on the hardware. Then, Sprint updates its own build. After that’s all done, Sprint will later push an update out to MVNOs like Ting.

The only assurance we can make is that we won’t add another barrier between you and the latest Android updates.

When an update hits, you’ll receive a system notification. You can also check for Android system updates on your phone if you’re worried you’ve missed something.