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Ting Hangout – Nov 29 at 2pm ET

On November 29 at 2pm ET we’ll be doing a Google+ Hangout with members of the Ting team. We’ll be talking about everything from our bring your own device efforts and our own device lineup to our plans for the end of the year, for 2013 and beyond. We’ll touch on Ting for Business, we’ll get one of our talented developers up to talk about the ideas behind Ting control panel 2.0 and the recent changes to our devices pages as well as what’s next for the site as a whole. We’ll have swag. Someone will be walking away with a sweet new phone.

We’ll even talk candidly about our iPhone and Windows Phone; where we are, where we’re hoping to go and how we plan to get there.

We’ll also have celebrity guests*

It’s going to be a super fantastic online streaming party and everyone’s invited.

We’ll take all your questions via email (hangout@ting.com) Twitter (@TingFTW, #TingHang) or by phone (phone number coming soon).

The event will be live on Google+ and live streaming to our YouTube channel.

November 29, 2pm ET. Mark it.

*presence of celebrity guests depends very much on your definition of the word celebrity.

Ting Black Friday Tuesday through Tuesday deals

At Ting, we tend to do things a little differently. So it is that yesterday we launched our Black Friday deals. Said deals will run through to next Tuesday, Nov 27. Logically.

For the whole week or while supplies last, we’ll have the following smartphones on sale:

We also stocked up on plenty of the LG Marquee Refurb and Samsung Transform Ultra Refurb for all you holiday bargain hunters.

Hit the Ting devices page to grab a great deal on a Ting smartphone.

Tell ’em Andrew sent you… not that saying so will actually do anything.

Device Update – What’s coming through the end of 2012

While the majority of the attention has been on BYO(S)D and successfully launching the first beta phases, our device team hasn’t been slacking.

We’re all pretty excited about BYO(S)D, in large part because, when it’s fully online, it will open up a whole new catalog of devices that are available to use with Ting.

In other words, you won’t necessarily need to buy a device from Ting to use it on Ting. With all that said, we understand the importance of having a good roster of devices available to purchase new or refurbished and of offering an excellent buying process for our customers. We will continue to work toward those ends as we add BYO(S)D to our bag of tricks.

Without further ado, here’s your device update.

They’re back!

Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot

Originally, we didn’t re-up on the Huawei hotspot as we were anticipating a tri-mode (3G, 4G WiMAX and LTE) hotspot. As that tri-mode hotspot has been delayed until the new year, we grabbed some more Huawei hotspots to fill the gap in our data devices lineup. This data device gets up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect via the mobile network.

Just added

Samsung M400

We just added the M400 flip phone with a price tag of around $100. There was a lot of pent up demand for this simple and sturdy device.

The M400 is the first accessible feature phone in the Ting lineup with its large on-screen fonts, large and clearly marked keypad and assistive technologies like text to speech on board. It also has a dedicated “in case of emergency” key that can be programmed with three numbers an elderly parent or grandparent can easily call. In addition, the dedicated 911 key can be used in case of a true medical or other emergency.

Coming soon. Really, really soon

Home Phone Connect 2

Home Phone Connect 2 lets you plug in a traditional home phone (including cordless base stations) to effectively get your home phone on the cellular network. Home Phone Connect 2 will retail for around $100 and notably, home phone (landline) numbers can be ported to a cellular provider like, say, us.

We’re currently testing the Home Phone Connect 2 just to make sure everything works as advertised. We’ll have it up on the site as soon as possible.

Home Phone Connect 2 is a great option for anyone whose home phone sees little use but that who isn’t quite ready give it up. With light use, there’s a good chance the home phone won’t even push Ting customers into their next usage bucket, cutting the home phone bill to effectively $6/mo., the standard Ting monthly device charge. Home Phone Connect 2 has a 2.5hr backup battery so home phone service isn’t interrupted in a power outage.

Coming in early December

LG Optimus G

We’ve talked a bit about the Optimus G before. Refresh your memory with the previous device update. We expect to have this device in our catalog in early December of this year. Unfortunately, that’s not the late November timeframe we had for the device last week.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

All signs point to us being able to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note II in our lineup for mid-December in both the white and grey options. It’ll come it at around $620 which is the full retail price. It’s a big sticker for a big device. As a “phablet,” it’s a unique and somewhat polarizing smartphone. As such, we don’t expect to move a ton of these but it is something we’ve been asked to stock and as always, the Ting abides.

LG Mach

Another device we talked about last time, the LG Mach will hit the Ting devices page in early December. To refresh your memory: 1.2GHz dual-core processor, LTE capability, 4-inch touchscreen and slide-out five-line QWERTY keyboard. In other words, pretty sweet at under $350.

BYO(S)D – Progress report and wider beta launch announced

With customer meetups, conferences, travel and all, it’s been a couple of weeks since we offered a proper update on our BYO(S)D progress. Let’s set that right.

First off, we’ve been asked several times about the activation fee for BYO(S)D-ing your device to Ting. There isn’t one. Once your BYO(S)D is activated on the Ting network, it will act like (indeed, it is) a regular Ting device sharing pooled minutes, messages and megabytes at the Ting standard $6/mo. per device. Beyond that, there’s no cost associated with BYO(S)D.

Much to report

Since we released our video detailing the complicated and highly technical process for the first ever BYO(S)D, we’ve made some further leaps forward.

We’ve brought over dozens Sprint devices in our alpha testing phases and we’ll begin rolling out our beta next week. With the first phase beta we’ll be counting into the hundreds of devices BYO(S)D’d to Ting. Our next major milestone will be when we’re counting into the thousands.

The alpha testing has helped us focus in on some of the issues, roadblocks and unforeseen problems that bringing an eligible, inactive Sprint device over to the Ting network can present. That’s kinda the point of alpha testing.

Our alpha testers have challenged us with everything from active devices to ancient devices, number ports and much more. These are precisely the kinds of scenarios BYO(S)D will face when it is released more widely.

The ambition

Our goal is to offer everyone that expressed interest in the Ting BYO(S)D beta by filling out the BYO(S)D beta sign up survey the opportunity to port their device(s) as soon as possible. More exact timeframes will become clear as we progress through this early beta.

On this note, we’ll be getting to everyone that signed up for the beta as soon as we possibly can; we’re hard at work. Please watch your inbox and don’t call us, we’ll call you 😉

BYO(S)D will be as easy as entering your inactive Sprint device’s ESN into our BYO(S)D web app and changing your MMS and possibly 4G settings. 4G WiMAX that is; LTE is not supported at present. Not to worry: We’ll walk you through it.

3G Sprint devices will become 3G Ting devices in short order. 4G WiMAX Sprint devices however can take up to 24 hours to provision. Realistically, if you started the process before turning in for the evening, your formerly Sprint WiMAX device should be a Ting WiMAX device by the time you wake up.

Once we’re through this early beta phase, we’ll have the BYO(S)D process perfected for “simple” activations which means inactive devices from among the top five most popular Sprint devices comprising around 80% of the BYO(S)D-able devices by volume. Those devices are:

  1. HTC EVO 4G
  2. Samsung Galaxy SII (Epic Touch 4G)
  3. LG Optimus S
  4. HTC EVO 3D 4G
  5. Motorola Photon 4G (not the Motorola Photon Q)

For devices not on this list, the BYO(S)D web app that we’ll be beta testing would, in all likelihood, still work as planned and our testers will be welcome to use it to bring over a device that’s not explicitly supported. For these devices, we’ll be requesting your feedback during the beta phases so we can build out our support to cover the remaining 20% of devices.

Who’s out of the (early) running?

  • Devices that are already active on Sprint cannot yet make the move.
  • The blacklisted devices we’ve mentioned before (Google Nexus devices, iPhone, BlackBerry, PTT handsets).
  • LTE devices can not be BYO(S)D’d at this time.
  • Devices reported lost or stolen to Sprint cannot be brought over.

We are sending out an updated BYO(S)D beta update survey to help us get the BYO(S)D ball rolling. If you opted not to receive further BYO(S)D updates by email (or really, even if you did), you can also find that survey embedded below.

Final note: Some 600 of the thousands of people that filled our our initial BYO(S)D beta sign up answered “no” to whether or not they wanted to bring an eligible, inactive Sprint device to Ting. Thanks for taking the time to fill out the sign up survey but, in the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, what’s the deal with that? 😉

As always, we’ll keep you posted as soon as we have new and important information. Until then, watch your inbox for a BYO(S)D beta invite (no promises at this early beta stage though). We’ll get invites out to everyone as soon as we possibly can. Thanks for your patience.

Where did Ting’s refurbished devices go?

Let us address the elephant in the Ethernet. We don’t currently have any refurbished devices on offer on the Ting devices page. Even though we have plenty to address demand sitting in our warehouse.

If you had your eye on a refurb device from Ting and that device is no longer available, we’re sorry. Refurbished devices will be back as soon as possible.

The problem

A huge rush of orders for refurbs using a particular promo code alerted our team that something might be amiss. A blogger had suggested purchasing refurb smartphones from us for next to nothing and not activating the device on Ting. It started a flurry of purchases from buyers that did not smell like future Ting customers.

We’ve been pretty transparent with the fact that service (minutes, messages and megabytes) is where Ting makes money. As we sell devices at or below our own cost (even before promos) and we don’t deal in contracts or other mobile business as usual, we would take a significant financial hit if these refurbs were never activated with us.

The solution

The actions we’re taking are twofold: first, as I mentioned, we’ve pulled all refurbs from the Ting lineup for the time being. Second, we’ll be changing the way promo codes work for some transactions.

Promo codes will continue to work as they always have for most first devices purchases, offering a dollar off discount on the purchase price. However for select devices, including very inexpensive refurbs, a Ting service credit will be offered instead. This way we’re able to give the same dollar value discount but that discount is delivered upon activation as opposed to on purchase. It’s an incentive to activate and ensures that devices aren’t being sold at significant cost to us and never activated on Ting.

As soon as that chunk of code and backend connecting has been completed, refurbs will once again appear in the Ting lineup. Our dev team is hard at work on the code necessary to make this a reality. We hope to have refurbs back in our lineup before the end of this month.

Device Update – Let’s get back at it!

Our apologies for the two week lull in device updates. A member of the team decided to get married and had the gall to take a two week honeymoon. This team member also happens to be the one that tends to the blog. It also happens to be me.

Let’s not beat around the bush (also, let’s agree that’s the last well-worn cliche that will appear in this device update).

Actually, one more cliche: There’s good news, which is most everything that follows this sentence, and there’s bad news, which is down the bottom of the page. It relates to the Nexus and we’re sorry.

New devices coming soon

Home Phone Connect 2

This device isn’t so much sexy as it is entirely logical. Especially, we’d argue, on Ting. Home Phone Connect 2 lets you plug in an analog phone, including cordless base stations, and ditch the landline phone bill without ditching the landline phone or phone number.

The Home Phone Connect 2 acts like any phone on your account, sharing pooled minutes. If your home phone rarely gets used, there’s a good chance it won’t even push you into the next bucket for Ting minutes meaning your landline phone would effectively only cost the Ting standard $6/mo..

We’ll be adding Home Phone Connect to our device lineup and begin shipping as early as next week.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

We have the option to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note II. While this “phablet” certainly isn’t for everyone (most specifically, it’s not for people who wear skinny jeans and / or are opposed to carrying around a man bag / purse) but its devotees are quite, well, devoted.

We asked the Ting Facebook community whether this is a device they’d be interested in. The response was largely no, but there were enough ayes that we’ll be adding it to the lineup. We’ll order a small quantity and see how they do.

Aside from the polarizing form factor, the fact that it’s over $600 when purchased without a large subsidy (and the requisite contract) makes it a bit of an anomaly in the Ting lineup. However, in the Ting lineup is exactly where it’ll be in the next couple of weeks, supply chain willing.

LG Eclipse AKA LG Optimus G

The LG Eclipse 4G LTE, better known as the LG Optimus G, occupies a bit of a weird spot. It’s awesome with its huge 4.7-inch IPS display at 1280×768. plus its 2GB of RAM, and S4 quad-core processor plus a 13 MP camera and, of course, super fast network speeds on the LTE network. However, people aren’t getting too worked up about it. We’d argue they should: It’s a killer handset… and we’re not just saying that because it’ll be in our device lineup soon. It should be available for pre-order soon, shipping before the end of the month. As always, these timeframes are supply chain willing.

LG Mach

Supersonic puns are almost too tempting here… but I’ll try to avoid sounding them all off.

The LG Mach is an interesting device: It’s very capable with its 1.2GHz dual-core processor, LTE capability, 4-inch touchscreen and slide-out five-line QWERTY keyboard. However, at below $350 it fits in nicely, offering an excellent choice in between the mid-range Android devices and the top-end superphones in our lineup.

We should have this device available in the next two to three weeks at less than $350. Do I even need to address the supply chain at this point?

Further out

Windows Phone 8 devices

We’ll add two Windows Phone 8 devices by the second quarter of the new year. We will do everything we can to get these devices sooner rather than later. We can’t say which specific WP8 devices these will be at present but they’re coming.

The bad news

Leading with bad news was not a fun blogpost make. That’s why we’re stuffing it down here at the bottom of this entry.

No Nexus

After many, many positive signs that made it look like Google and its manufacturing partners for the Nexus line would be making their next flagship device MVNO friendly, it seems that’s not the case.

We’re trying to track down someone at Google so we can grill them ask the pertinent questions. We’ll be pulling together a full Nexus vs as it relates to Ting and other MVNOs as soon as we have a more solid understanding of exactly what is happening and why.

Tri-band LTE hotspot delayed until 2013

Manufacturing issues mean that we’ll have to wait until 2013 to offer a tri-band (LTE, 4G WiMAX and 3G as the fallback) hotspot. We do expect to have LTE-ready data sticks and other such devices in the near term. However, the do-it-all hotspot we’ve been waiting for is still a way out.

A new manufacturer has been tapped and the as yet unannounced device is expected in the first quarter of 2013. Sorry we can’t say anything more about it right now.