The first BYO(S)D device is now active on Ting. There are five more similar activations in the hopper that will be live on Ting by the end of this week as a part of our early alpha testing. This is the start of phase one of the BYO(S)D program. It also means we’ve hit our first major milestone and BYO(S)D is moving ever closer.
We’ve learned a lot about the BYO(S)D process through our initial tests and we’re confident we’ll be able to offer up a smooth and seamless experience on launch.
We mentioned previously that we’re going to divide the beta period up into two phases. We’ve decided we need to do the same thing for the alpha testing. Any impact on the timing for our beta phases looks like it will be negligible. Our previous BYO(S)D timing predictions are still the best we have.
Phase one alpha (underway):
This alpha test will be devices that fall under the category of low-hanging fruit: They are inactive devices coming from an existing Ting customer who already has the master subsidy lock (MSL, the code that locks a device to a specific carrier), there’s no number porting required and the customer isn’t concerned about when specifically we do the activation.
The phase one alpha will bring Sprint devices from five members of the Ting Army over. We’ll be working closely with these brave souls to identify any issues in the process which, as it stands currently, requires human intervention on our part.
BYO(S)D isn’t going to be efficient (for us or you) if each new activation requires a call to customer service. Our goal is to make calls to the help desk an exception as opposed to a rule. That’s why we’re breaking the initial testing into multiple phases, each step allowing for more devices to make the move than the one before it.
Phase two alpha:
This will be a somewhat broader test of the process. Rather than automating at this stage, the process will still be a manual one. What we’ll be testing here is a broader range of devices and variables such as porting a number and bringing over a device that has active service. We’ll be testing the top five most popular devices which, judging by your responses to our BYO(S)D survey and optional beta sign-up, should cover as much as 80% of the devices we’ll be activating. Those five devices are:
- HTC EVO 4G
- Samsung Galaxy SII (Epic Touch 4G)
- LG Optimus S
- HTC EVO 3D 4G
- Motorola Photon 4G
The remaining about 20% of devices is spread much more broadly across as many as 100 different devices. That, my friends, is what we call a challenge. It’s one we have a plan to tackle though.
Phase one beta:
We’re still on target to launch this first beta wave at the end of this month or early next. The specific timing is flexible. Necessarily so given that the purpose of these phases is to test the process, find and fix the friction points. While we have a good idea of what to expect we won’t be surprised to see some surprises. Wait, what?
This phase will be another manual one but with some testers (from among the most popular devices) attempting the automated process that we’re working on.
Phase two beta:
This phase will test the automated procedure for the most popular devices. We’ll have a beta of the Ting my Android Phone app in testing too. The process for bringing a Sprint device over to Ting will be web-based with an optional Android app which will find and apply the MSL to unlock the device, will send your phone’s ESN to Ting servers such that it’s registered with us and ready to be activated.
We’ll also open this phase up for beta testers to bring over any Sprint device at all, though we’ll be asking for feedback and insight into the process such that we can begin to document how the process works for the ~100 devices that make up the aforementioned ~20%.
The challenges we’ve encountered and that we expect to encounter are of the fun problem solving and team building as opposed to the insurmountable and hair rending varieties. One of the biggest challenges is to make it easy for non-geeks to be able manually reprogram MMS and 4G (WiMAX) “data realm” settings from Sprint to Ting. 3G and LTE (when LTE devices are available for BYOD) will require no such end-user intervention. We’re looking to add the ability to reprogram these settings into the Ting app which will mean Android devices are well looked after. We’ve exploring what the best option is for feature phone users.
Also, some older model feature phones cannot have their MMS settings changed. As such, MMS wouldn’t work at all. We expect this issue to be confined to a very small portion of feature phones; basically anything that was manufactured back when MMS was a new concept… so yeah, a very small portion.
We’re making great progress on BYO(S)D. We’ve added further testing phases to ensure that when we launch, the BYO(S)D program is ready for primetime.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to fill out our BYO(S)D survey and beta program / beta news signup sheet below.