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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?:


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, 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 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

Our customer service team is growing!

It’s been a busy summer at Ting and I’m super pleased to welcome six new advisors to the customer experience team. Scott, Joey, Kyra, Tameika, Olga and Allan have recently finished up their training, and are just dying to help Ting customers with any questions they might have with their newly activated devices.

So why not give ’em a call and say hello? They’d love to hear from you!

Ting Customer Q&A – John A. Hayner

John A. Hayner

Ting customer since: Mar 2012
Previous carrier: Verizon
Monthly savings with Ting: Approx. $50/mo

Where did you first hear about Ting?:

From my friend Pete as I was looking into a new phone.

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

It was just that Ting seemed so simple. My friend Jeff was writing an intro piece about Ting for Digital Trends and had nothing but good things to say from his research. I found nothing but good things from my research. Then I hopped on the plan calculator on Ting’s website and saw what I would save over Verizon. That’s when my mind was blown. I quickly did an analysis of if I used 1/2 GB of data, vs. 1GB vs. even 2GB and compared it to what i would pay over the next two years had I gotten a new contract with Verizon and a new iPhone, and woah. My Motorola Photon would be paid for by my savings alone in well under a year!

…How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?:

I was about 5 months past my 2 year contract being expired. $0 in termination fees.

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

The last three months I have paid $46-$49/month for my Ting service. With Verizon I was paying 108-$115. Which is an incredible savings of $59-$69 every month for a better phone/better apps/better service.

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

1 phone.

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

That you guys are awesome. That there are real people that will answer your calls when you call with questions/to get help. When I had a few hiccups when I first signed up (my voicemail and text service weren’t turned on) they fixed them both right away, and refunded me a credit for my activation fee (i think). The cost savings for people are incredible vs. the major carriers and their increasingly restrictive plans.

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

Yes. I HATED the cust. serivce from Verizon. I once waited on hold for 45 minutes to talk to some woman in India only to get transfered to her boss because my question was apparently over her pay grade, and had to wait ANOTHER 45 minutes!!! I was Pissed! (pardon my french). When I first called Ting I talked to a very pleasant woman (Janice)who helped me compare the photon to the galaxy.

What should we be doing better?:

The phone selection is an issue for people who just looove their silly little iPhones. but i know you guys are working on that (from reading the blog).

I love my photon so i’m happy.

Announcing Ting dashboard 2.0 preview

Today our talented dev team took the wraps off the new Ting account dashboard. It’s available to preview now and will be ready to roll out to all users soon, following the preview period and some final tweaks.

To check out the new dashboard just click on the Dashboard Preview link in the right hand navigation panel of your Ting account page. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Upon hitting the Dashboard Preview link you’ll be dropped in to the brand new control panel that features easier to read usage gauges for minutes, messages and megabytes (reminiscent of Great Pokéballs… which it must be pointed out have a 1.5x better chance of catching a Pokémon than a standard Pokéball), improved individual device-level control, brand new individual device-level alerts as well as the option to disable voice, text messages, data or completely suspend the individual device in question when it hits the limits you’ve defined. We’ve also made it easier to see events like phone calls, text messages and data sessions by account or by device.

The new control panel also allows the option to change global account settings to turn things like call forwarding and international calling, text and picture / video messaging, tethering, 4G and more on or off at the account level. Any devices whose preferences you’ve already set will remain unchanged; these global preferences will be stored and applied to any new devices you add to your Ting account upon activation.

We’ve made it much easier to find your Refer a Friend details and we’ve made it simpler share Ting with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve cleaned up the Details streams which are now nested under each of the usage dials; click View Details under the Minutes, Messages or

Megabytes dials to see a full log of all activity on your account. We’ve made it easier to change your plan and we’ve done a lot of work to clarify bills. We’ll continue to tweak during this preview phase and we have a lot of plans to further clarify bills in the coming development cycles.

Log in to your account, click the Dashboard Preview link and have a look around.

Please let us know what you think by filling out the Ting account control panel redesign survey, embedded below and available here.