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Samsung Galaxy SIII giveaway winner:
Bill Butt

When we first added the Samsung Galaxy SIII to the Ting lineup and offered it up for pre-order, we said we’d give away two Galaxy SIIIs across from among the first 200 pre-orders across all color and capacity variations. Well, we did just that; the first name drawn was William Butt, Bill to his friends. Since we’re all friends here, Bill it is.

We asked Bill if he’d be willing to do a quick Q&A with us. He obliged because he’s a nice guy.

Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

I was looking for a really good way to drastically cut my cell phone bill. My son, who follows all things tech, suggested that I look into Ting. I would say that I switched for two reasons: 1) to save money and 2) it made sense. I read the Ting blog from beginning to end (ed: That’s what I like to hear!), ran the numbers, and I saw that Ting is a different kind of phone company. In a two year time period I will cut my cell phone bill to a quarter of what it was even with buying the phone outright.

Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying? How long would it have taken?

The difference between my old provider using their lease to own (ed: Love this. A great way to look at subsidized devices and contracts.) and Ting’s owning the phone outright from day one was only $350. That is two or three months of savings to pay for the phone on an individual case. My apple to apple comparison of my old provider and Ting is something like going from $183/month before taxes to $45/ month using two years of cell phone usage. Stretch that out over two years, and you are talking some serious saving coming my way by changing to Ting.

How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

The Galaxy SIII is great. It’s light years ahead of my old phone that is only 2½ years old. The phone has lots of pros. There are too many to list here without any obvious cons. Folks just have to get one of these phones and unleash it on the Ting network. They will never be sorry. Plus, it is a bonus when the wife likes her new Samsung Galaxy SIII too.

What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

Pay the cable bill, would Ting be thinking about entering the cable TV Market? My cable company does not think like Ting does. Their bills are like my old cell phone provider, bad.

How do you explain Ting to your friends and family?

My change to Ting gives me more services for less money; you cannot beat that.

Thanks for taking the time, Bill. We appreciate it.

Ting Customer Q&A – Anne Tennies

Anne Tennies

Ting customer since: Feb 2012
Previous carrier: Verizon
Monthly Savings with Ting: About $24/mo.

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?:

The pricing structure seemed very reasonable. I was resisting going to a smart phone, partly because of the extra $30/month. With Ting, we figured we’d save money even with the extra smartphone, and didn’t have to pay for 3 billion minutes or 5000 texts when we don’t use that much.

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?:

My contract had ended, but my husband had a few months yet, so I switched right away and added him the day his contract expired. I think when we checked it would have cost ~$250 in early termination fees, so he stuck it out.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?:

We had been on my parents’ family plan and paid $65/month for 1 feature phone and 1 smart phone, each with a texting package ($5 per phone). With that plan, we had 550 minutes shared between 4 of us, plus free mobile-to-mobile. Since we’ve both been with Ting, we usually pay $41/month for 2 smart phones, but if we travel or for some reason use more data or minutes, it only adds a few bucks to the bill.

How many phones and/or data services do you have on your Ting plan?:

2 phones

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?:

Ting has the crazy idea that you should only pay for the minutes/data/texts that you actually use. You prepay for the month predicting your usage, and you’ll get a charge or credit on the next bill if you used more or less than you thought you would. Fantastic customer service, and when you call, somebody actually answers the phone. I warn them about the lack of data roaming, since we live in a rural area with spotty coverage, and then I send them a link to the site, encouraging hem to try the calculators, and (since the referral program has been around) offer a code to save some money if they’re interesting switching. I’ve also gone to a couple people’s homes so they could see the signal strength.

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

Very! Besides saving bunches of money, I’m really happy to have a smartphone. I don’t use much data, but a couple of the apps I use have changed my life. (With LoseIt I lost 20 pounds this summer, and OurGroceries has kept me from losing my mind)

What should we be doing better?:

If you could negotiate data roaming, that would make a huge difference for a lot of people in my community. We’re in a college town of approx. 20K people and Sprint has coverage in town, but 15 minutes in almost any direction and we’re roaming. That’s been a dealbreaker for some people. Otherwise you just need to get the word out better. I think some people get nervous about switching to something they’ve only heard of from one person by word-of-mouth.

Customer Q & A – Tim White

Tim White

Ting customer since: June 2012
Previous carrier: Verizon
Monthly savings with Ting: $55/mo.

Where did you first hear about Ting?:

The forums of Republic Wireless while I was waiting for my Beta wave there.

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?:

I am a light user, but I still like to have a high functioning phone (smartphone) at my disposal. Ting allows me to pay for what I use, which seems downright logical.

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?:

My contract was up, I was past my 2 year term and was paying month to month.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?:

I purchased the Galaxy SII from Ting for ~$470. Over my first 3 Ting bills I have saved ~$55/mo. (~$75 vs ~$20). The way I look at it, the savings will pay off the cost of the phone in another 6 months, and then after that I am saving $55/mo.! If I had the kind of plan with my previous carrier that I now have with Ting, the savings would be even larger. So not only have I upgraded, but I have also slashed my bill by $50+.

How many phones and/or data services do you have on your Ting plan?:

1

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?:

I usually point them to the site and show them the “plans” page. I then tell them how much I am paying per month (sometimes I have to pull up my bill on my awesome new smartphone to prove it). Not so much for the random passers by though…

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

I’m am very happy I moved to Ting. The amount of money I save per month is difficult to wrap my head around. My service is noticably worse, but the savings/service trade-off is a no-brainer for me. And of course, the poorer service is due to Sprint’s infrastructure and it came with the territory. I have a superior phone to my prior one (EnV Touch < Galaxy SII)and a better plan, for less money. What is there not to be happy about.

What should we be doing better?:

I have no complaints to make outside of my sometimes poor reception (which falls on Sprint’s shoulders). Verizon is without question the king of this area. I have not yet needed assistance from customer service, but from the quick answers to the questions people have on the forums and the praise I see heaped on Ting’s customer service I wouldn’t anticipate any complaints. The fact that I haven’t needed to contact customer service is a testament in itself.

Thank you Ting team!

First Ting customer hits the LTE network

We’re a little late in posting this given that our first LTE network ping actually happened on September 7. We figured we’d hold off long enough to put our news up against the impending iPhone 5 launch from Apple to see who’ll get the most attention.

We like our odds.

Wayne Elseth was early into the queue and received his Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order in the first small batch of shipments. Working in Baltimore, MD, one of the first cities to come online in the LTE rollout, it wasn’t long before his phone found the faster network.

We got in touch with Wayne to let him know the good news; that as the first ever Ting LTE user, his Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order purchase price was to be fully refunded. Not a bad deal, really!

There are still two more SIII full refunds to be drawn from the first 200 pre-orders upon activation. With 32 GB Galaxy SIIIs approaching our warehouse now and with 16 GBs closely following, we expect to draw two more lucky winners next week.

In the meantime, we can live vicariously through Wayne. We spoke to him about his latest acquisition, about making the switch to Ting, about LTE and about new found fortune:

Ting: Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

Wayne Elseth: I’ve been a captive of the Big Guys for many years suffering through a set of family feature phones that allowed us to communicate but weren’t at all inspiring. I’ve wanted (cannot really say I needed, but the end result is the same) to upgrade to a smart phone for a long time but couldn’t justify the expense of three data plans and the resulting two-year contract.

As part of my complete “cutting the cord” effort I moved my home phone to VOIP and continued the effort by looking for a new cell provider. A few Google searches later I found Ting! The fact that Ting is related to Tucows only made the discovery better. I’ve been a Tucows fan since the very early days when the primary product was file sharing. It’s really great that Tucows is expanding. Also, I really love having a bucket of time/bytes to share between the family phones.

T: Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying? How long would it have taken?

W: Keeping in mind that we used to have only feature phones with the smallest bucket of minutes our total monthly bill was in the $75 range. Assuming the same usage pattern the savings calculates out to about $54 per month less expensive using Ting, so the SIII break-even is a bit less than a year. We keep equipment forever, so the payback is even better than it first appears.

T: How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

W: It’s a great phone and provides excellent coverage. I’m still loading it up with interesting apps. I’m also guessing that my time on the SIII will be going up – it’s got a pretty amazing set of capabilities.

T: What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

W: Well, getting a 4G hotspot for my laptop is looking pretty interesting.

T: Did you notice the speed difference when you hit the LTE network?

W: Yes, the 4G speed difference is amazing. Web pages download in a flash making for a great user experience.

Ting Customer Q & A – Emmett Hoops

Emmett Hoops

Ting customer since: May 2012
Previous carrier: Virgin Mobile
Monthly savings with Ting: min. $55/mo.

Where did you first hear about Ting?:

It was mentioned in a Google+ thread on cell phone outrages.

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?:

Everything about Ting tells me that the company is on my side. In fact, I feel it’s not a side: I feel Ting and I are a team, beating the high cost of cell phones together.

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?

: I had been with Sprint for 10 years, then with Virgin. I had to pay a $70 fee to Sprint because I left two months early.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?:

I am saving a minimum $55 a month over Sprint; $14 a month over Virgin. (Virgin is the absolute worst for coverage. They have NO roaming agreements.)

How many phones and/or data services do you have on your Ting plan?:

1

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?:

I tell them my story, especially how I was refunded money because I didn’t use 1 GB of data (I used 37 MB.) I offer to show them my account statement if we’re near a computer. Otherwise I try to get them to understand that they have alternatives. (That’s harder than I thought.)

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

I could not be happier with a phone company than I am with Ting. I feel they have a sense of humor — the press release in June about coming out with a data sharing plan four months earlier was pretty dang hilarious — and I never, ever expected to get money back for data I did not use. Once I had a technical question, and called customer service. I got a human being who spoke flawless English, all without pressing A this, C that, “your business is very important so please wait” kind of stuff. Being with Ting is the best choice I’ve made in communications technology, ever.

What should we be doing better?:

Better? Ting? Tucows? Well, I’d have to say that while I’m more than happy with the voice and text coverage, data roaming would be nice too. I realize that it’s inordinately expensive; indeed, it’s the biggest topic these days in cell service. However, I believe that Ting and I are on the same side, so I know they’re looking at ways of providing data roaming — and that if they (we) find an attractive price, we’ll have it available.

Help make Google’s Nexus MVNO friendly

The reasons for the Nexus series of devices being non-MVNO friendly are many and we’ll explore them here on the Ting blog soon. More pressing though is an entirely end user-driven petition campaign asking Google to make the next non-GSM versions of the Nexus devices MVNO friendly.

We have a lot of love for unmodified Android as it comes on the Nexus devices. It’s the most open, the most pure and Nexus users are always the first to get OTA updates meaning it’s also the line that is running the absolute latest version of Android. In short, it’s not your typical locked-down smartphone. It’s ironic, then, that MVNOs like Ting who are challenging business as usual mobile are out of the running to carry the Nexus device, itself a challenger.

We’ve been considering a letter writing campaign or a petition in order to show popular support for making the Nexus MVNO friendly. One particularly would-be Ting Nexus user, Ken Kinder, decided to beat us to the punch. He started TingMyNexus.com, hosting the petition that was on our to-do list. He started circulating it to get digital signatures: 74 at last count. We asked Ken what motivated him to start this effort:

Ting: Why do you think the Nexus line of devices should have a
home on Ting (and by extension, other MVNOs?)

Ken Kinder: Well of course the Galaxy Nexus is the most hacker-friendly phone on the market. Google doesn’t offer tech support for tinkering with the firmware, but they also don’t try to stop you. Ting has the same attitude: they’re happy to have hobbyists finding creative ways to use their devices.

A more subtle connection is that Ting, like the Galaxy Nexus, is a clean and distraction-free experience. Booting up a phone with a lot of pre-installed doodads, demo apps, and unwanted games is like walking down the Vegas strip: everywhere you look, stuff is competing for your attention. Websites for many carriers, and especially discount MVNOs, are the same way with flashing banners, constant up-sells, and gaudy advertisements. Ting and the Galaxy Nexus are both pleasant experiences, free of post-sale up-sells.

T: What prompted you to create the TingMyNexus.com site?

K: I had contemplated creating it before Ting’s BYOD announcement but after we learned that the Nexus would be excluded from BYOD, I was just really surprised. Google sells an unlocked, carrier-neutral version of their GSM phone, so their decision to keep the LTE Nexus exclusive to only a few carriers is puzzling. I feel that if Ting users voice their demand, Google might reexamine its distribution agreements and bring the next Nexus phone to Ting, or at least let the Sprint version be ported.

T: What is it about the Nexus devices that you find so compelling?

K: It’s the canonical Android phone, so Android updates come quickly. Every other phone has some modified version of what’s on the Nexus, but the Nexus has the original Android operating system, as it was intended by the people who made it. Just as important, although more OEMs are coming around on this, the Nexus phones have always let you install whatever operating system you want on your phone. I feel like if I own a computer, I should be able to use whatever software I want on it, and the Nexus is ideal for that.

T: What are your goals for the site? What does success look like for
this effort?

K: The current Galaxy Nexus is almost a year old, so it’s their next flagship phone that’s on the horizon for me. If Google releases that device for Ting, that’s the best possible outcome.

T: How can people help get the word out?

K: Tweet it, share it on your social networks, and let people know. There is a huge community of hobbyists who want a carrier with a transparent pricing model. Go on XDA-Developers or Reddit and you’ll find plenty of contempt for big phone companies charging for things like tethering or voicemail. People in the Android tech community really do want to just buy pristine phones outright, then pay for what they use.

T: What platform did you use before you made the move to Android?
Specifically, what was it about Android that made you switch?

K: The HTC G1 was my first smartphone and the first Android phone. Its main appeal at the time, honestly, was that it would synchronize over the air to my Gmail address book. Being a full-time developer and long-time Linux user, I also appreciate that most of Android is Open Source.

FWIW, I actually ordered a Galaxy S3. But I’m going to keep it in an Otterbox so that if Ting ever gets the next Nexus device, I can resell my S3 on Swappa and get the Nexus. The S3 is a great phone spec-wise, but I still prefer stock Android to Touchwiz.

Sign the petition to help get the Nexus line of devices on Ting