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BYO(S)D – Moving ever closer to Ting

tl;dr: A Ting BYOD timeline:

Now:
Alpha testing underway
Late October:
Phase one beta launch target

Since we announced our BYOD plans for Q4 of this year, we’ve fielded innumerable questions and received thousands of entries in the Ting BYO(S)D beta program.

When the calendar flipped from September to October, Q4 officially started. We promised we’d share news as early in Q4 as we possibly could. It’s still early in Q4. This is as early as we possibly could. That said, we’ll have more detail to share once we’ve had a chance to do some of our own testing.

A couple of members of the Ting team just returned from Kansas City, home to Sprint HQ. Our top priorities for this meeting were to talk about BYOD and to put the things in place that would allow us to move forward quickly.

We also wanted to get a much clearer idea of what the device lineup will look like at the end of this and in to next year.

We wanted to get more and better refurbished devices that we could in turn offer up to you.

We’re pleased to report it’s check on all fronts; the rare trifecta of check. The latter two points we’ll cover in a device update, coming soon. This update is all about BYOD.

BYOD on Ting – a timeframe

BYO(S)D will allow us to bring just about any Sprint device over to Ting, including devices from other MVNOs but excluding the Boost and Virgin brands. Other exclusions we’ve mentioned before and include the iPhone, BlackBerry devices, Push to Talk devices and a few others.

Any device that isn’t on the blacklist and that has a valid ESN is eligible to move carriers. To have a valid ESN it must be a device that has not been reported lost or stolen and that isn’t tied to an account that’s not in good standing. We’re working on an online tool that will check a device ESN to ensure it’s legit, in part to foster the used device market.

While in Kansas City we got the whitelist of devices that will be able to make the move to Ting. It’s a long list. We’ve also compiled entries from the Ting BYOD beta program form and are in the process of selecting the best devices to focus our early efforts on for BYOD.

We have already started on a very small alpha program comprising a few members of the Ting Army. They’ll be working with us to test BYOD as we learn more about the process. We’re hoping we can begin to roll out the phase one beta as soon as the end of this month.

Challenges with BYOD on Ting

The biggest challenges thus far have been technical; there’s a lot that has to happen behind the scenes to provision a device from Sprint or from another MVNO and bring it over to Ting. Sprint is hard at work on an API that we can use to move a device. Until that’s in place, the BYOD process will require some intervention from our customer service team. Until more of the process can be a simple and hands-off affair, we won’t be opening BYOD up fully. As important as BYOD is to us and to you, it quickly loses its luster if it’s a manual process that doesn’t scale.

Ting my phone Android app

We’re hard at work on building an Android app that will do all the work: Checking the ESN on a Sprint device, registering that ESN as a Ting device and moving it under your Ting account. Until the aforementioned API is in place, the stuff going on behind the scenes of this Android app will be somewhat less than elegant. That said, it will demonstrate what’s possible. If all goes according to plan we’ll have this app in place for the phase one beta.

How the beta will work

We mentioned we’ve already started on a very small alpha test. Once that’s completed we’ll roll out the phase one beta which will be limited to the five or six most popular devices (as pulled from the Ting BYO(S)D survey and beta entry form), hopefully at the end of this month. Once this alpha and first phase beta testing are completed, we’ll roll a phase two beta out and offer it to everyone that filled out the aforementioned form.

We’ll continue to share news as news comes available to share.

If you want to be among the first to try BYOD on Ting there’s still time to fill out the BYOD survey and beta signup.

BYOD update, new devices coming soon to Ting and a shipping update

Device Update: September 27, 2012

A couple of members of the Ting team will be heading out to Sprint HQ on Sunday evening, returning late Wednesday. They’ll return with a boatload of information on BYOD, on the device lineup available to us going forward and much more. In other words, we’ll have a BYOD update very soon. The information that we have thus far follows.

BYO(Sprint)D

Bring your own (Sprint) device is coming ever closer. We’ve been working hard on our end to make sure that as soon as Sprint is ready to go, all we’ll need to do is make the appropriate backend connections and BYOD on Ting will be a reality.

We’ll have more detail in a dedicated BYOD blog post but there’s one tidbit we can share now: We’re working on an app that will make the BYOD process incredibly simple and elegant for Android users. Our app will make a Sprint network-capable Android device into a Ting device with a few button presses. We can’t wait to show it off… but we’re going to have to. Beta testers will get first crack at BYOD on Ting and at using the Android app. It’s not too late to sign up for a possible spot in the Ting BYOD beta.

BYO(other)D

We’ve made no secret of how excited we are to be able to offer BYO(Sprint)D. For one, it lets existing Ting customers bring over a previous Sprint device that might otherwise just have sat in a drawer collecting dust. Moreover, it lowers the “barrier for entry” significantly; no more will you have to purchase a device from Ting in order to be a Ting customer.

We’ll also make no secret of the fact that we don’t want BYOD to stop with Sprint and Sprint-capable devices. We’d love to be able to offer BYOD on any device from any carrier. As it stands, there’s the little issue of network frequency limiting which devices could conceivably come to Ting.

While it won’t be as fast moving as our BYO(S)D initiative, we’d love your insight into which devices from other providers you’d like to be able to bring to Ting. Please take a moment to fill out our BYO(O)D form.

Devices coming soon

While “hero” devices like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the Motorola Photon Q and the HTC EVO 4G LTE tend to get all the attention, they’re only a small part of a device lineup. While it’s nice to have a sweet smartphone in your pocket or purse, not everyone needs or wants to have the latest and greatest.

This week’s device update is mostly focussed on the lower end of the device chain; inexpensive entry-level Android devices and feature phones.

Feature phones

Samsung Array (M390)

We’ll be adding a QWERTY slider feature phone to our lineup in the next couple of weeks. The Samsung Array (M390) is a solid slider, ideal for the heavy texting set. It’s exactly the type of device that we’ve received numerous requests for and it fills a gap in the current Ting lineup.

Our cost on the Array has yet to be determined. As we sell devices at or slightly below our own cost, that means the Ting sale price for the Array has likewise yet to be determined. We’ll update as soon as we have that information. It’ll definitely be south of $150. More detail on the Samsung Array (M390)

Accessible flip phone

Accessible in this case means ideal for those with poor eyesight or hearing. Accessible devices generally offer larger keypads with very clearly marked numbers, larger on-screen fonts and louder speakers / earpieces.

The roadmap suggests we’ll have an accessible flip feature phone available to us in mid to late October. Currently, it’s listed as the Samsung M400 which somehow doesn’t sound right. We expect to have more detail after our marathon meetings with Sprint next week.

Older cell phone users don’t tend to be glued to their phones like we young whippersnappers so after the standard $6/mo. per device, there’s a good chance that their monthly usage will effectively be free if added to an existing plan. We’ve received requests for some kind of accessible flip feature phone so this device or something like it is one we’ve been looking to add for a while now.

Smartphones

Alcatel OneTouch Flex

The OneTouch Flex is an interesting device. It’s a candybar smartphone with full QWERTY keyboard a la BlackBerry. OS wise though, it runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). “OneTouch” is actually a bit of a misnomer given that you can navigate around the device in a couple of different ways (granted, “CoupleOfDifferentTouch” doesn’t have quite the same ring.) The 2.8-inch screen is of the capacitive touch variety and the full QWERTY keyboard also has four cursor keys which might come in handy if your flesh lacks the capacitance required to use a touch screen… in which case you’re probably not in the land of the living. Sadly, that also means you’re not really in our target demographic.

We expect to add have this device available in mid-October. While the exact price has yet to be determined, we expect it to come in at around the $100 mark.

Shipping

Motorola Photon Q

Motorola Photon Q devices are nearing our warehouse and will leaving as quickly as they arrive; late today and tomorrow. Watch you inbox for a shipping notification.

HTC EVO 4G LTE

Both color variations of the HTC EVO 4G LTE are approaching our warehouse and will begin shipping as early as tomorrow and through early next week.

LG Optimus Elite

Black Optimus Elite devices are also shipping tomorrow and early next week. White Optimus Elites are constrained until November. As such, we’ve removed them from our devices page for the time being.

LG Viper

LG Viper pre-orders will begin shipping late this week and early next. There’s also a planned over the air (OTA) maintenance release which will upgrade the Viper to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and default the network mode to LTE.

The Viper is an LTE-capable device. Currently though, the network mode is defaulted to 3G CDMA before shipment. If you’re in an LTE area you can change the default to LTE in the Network Mode settings menu while you await the OTA release. If you’re not in an LTE area, you can follow the same steps to select CDMA (3G) only after the OTA update such that your device isn’t always looking for the LTE network.

Samsung Galaxy SIII MMS fix

There was an issue with multimedia messaging (MMS, sending pictures, videos and audio clips attached to text messages) on the Galaxy SIII. An OTA update to fix the problem has been released and should be fully rolled out to all SIIIs in the next few weeks.

LG Optimus Elite MMS fix

We’re waiting on word of a fix for an MMS issue on the LG Optimus Elite. We’ve communicated with all Ting Optimus Elite owners. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is actively testing a fix for this issue. Unfortunately there is no work-around at this time. We’ll keep you posted.

Device update: SIIIs ship same-day and Ting’s refurb plans

Device update: September 21, 2012

Coming soon

We’ve got a few devices we’ll be getting in to the Ting lineup soon. First up is the ZTE Warp on Monday. The ZTE Warp is a pretty sweet Android device with a 4.3-inch screen, a 1GHz processor, a 5 MP camera and 4 GB of internal storage, expandable with an up to 32 GB microSD card.

Sign up for Ting device alerts if you want to be among the first to know when we add a new device to our lineup.

Samsung Galaxy SIII

We’ve had back to back record device sale and shipment months. We came out of a challenging period with our best device catalog to date and we have no thoughts of slowing down.

All Samsung Galaxy SIII devices with the sole exception of the 32GB white model now ship on the same day if ordered before 3pm CT. The Samsung Galaxy SIII 32GB white ships in five to seven days.

Pre-orders from when we first put the Samsung Galaxy SIII up on the Ting devices page have all been fulfilled.

We also drew the two lucky winners who had their full SIII device purchase price refunded. Stay tuned to the blog for more on that. Coming soon.

Kyocera Rise

We just added the Kyocera Rise to our device linuep. At $163 for a nice mid-range Android phone that runs Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and that has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, we predict good things for this device. It’s a capable smartphone with its 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 3.5-inch screen.

The latest information we have suggests that the two- to three-week shipping window we estimated is actually much more generous than it needed to be. Kyocera Rise devices will start leaving the warehouse as early as next week.

Refurbished devices

Since our last device update, we’ve added the refurbished LG Optimus S in charcoal grey to our lineup. At $73, its $10 more than the purple refurbished Optimus S devices that we are now out of stock on. Not because we’re playing games or because the commodity price of grey vs. purple plastic is in some way skewed. We sell devices at or slightly below our cost so this price reflects what we’re buying the grey Optimus S devices for.

We’re also looking to add many, many more refurbished devices to our lineup. We’ll share that news as soon as we have some specifics to talk about. Suffice it to say that if a refurb is available at a decent cost, we’ll be buying up all we can and adding them to our lineup ASAP.

LTE data device

We were hoping to add a tri-band mobile hotspot that shares your 3G, 4G WiMAX or LTE connection (depending which network you’re in range of) over Wi-Fi. However, it’s being held back to correct some manufacturing issues. Apparently, jamming four wireless radios into one device and having everything play nicely together isn’t as easy as you might think.

We’ll continue our search for the perfect data device. As ever, watch this space and sign up for email updates to get the latest Ting news as it hits.

(L-R) VP of Marketing Michael Goldstein, Head of Smartphones for Ting, Android Plushie and EVP of Sales, Dave Woroch having a deadly serious discussion in the Ting warroom.

Device update: Milano sale, pre-orders shipping and the LG Viper coming soon

Yesterday we announced the winner of the first to LTE Samsung Galaxy SIII full device price refund. We’ve still got two more SIII purchases to refund from among the first 200 pre-orders. If you’re a winner, we’ll let you know shortly after you activate your device and you’ll receive a full device purchase price refund. There’s more news to report than just this, however.

Device sale: Kyocera Milano at $105

We’re¬†having a sale on the Kyocera Milano. If you’re looking for an infinitely pocketable smartphone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Milano. Especially at $105, a full $40 off the original ask.

When the Milanos we have in stock are gone, they’re gone for good so if you’ve been debating pulling the trigger, there’s no time like the present.

Shipping update

Samsung Galaxy SIII in both capacity options (16 GB and 32 GB) and in both color variations (white and blue) are leaving the warehouse as quickly as they arrive. Pre-order shipments are sent out on a first come, first served basis. We have enough Galaxy SIIIs in stock and in-bound to cover the initial pre-orders across colors and capacities. For anyone late to the party (that is, ordering in the past couple of weeks) the ships-in estimate that was displayed when you placed your order holds true. We’ve also updated the “ships in” times for new Samsung Galaxy SIII orders with the latest info we have available.

We’ll see the Motorola Photon Q pre-orders and the HTC EVO 4G LTE in both black and white in the warehouse by late next week and will have them flying out the doors as soon as is humanly possible.

We’ll also be shipping LG Optimus S refurbs starting Monday. The Samsung M370 flip feature phone orders will start rolling out the the doors in 10 days if not sooner.

Samsung Galaxy SIII warehouse pic
White Samsung Galaxy SIIIs lined up to leave the warehouse.

Coming (very) soon

LG Viper

We predict good things for the LG Viper, the entry-level for LTE devices. The Viper just hit the Ting devices page and will ship starting week. We decided not to put the Viper up for pre-order before now because… Well… because we’ve been busy, OK?

The Viper has been described as the LG Optimus Elite on steroids with its LTE access, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 4-inch WVGA screen.

At $371 it’s latest and least expensive LTE phone to hit the Ting lineup.

Get it while it’s hot

LG Optimus S refurb

The refurbished LG Optimus S devices are being snapped up more quickly than even we thought they would be… and we’re born optimists. $63 for an entry-level smartphone is a pretty killer deal after all. We’ve also updated the ship time on the Optimus S refurbs to shipping in five to seven days.

We’re looking to get more refurbished LG Optimus S devices in so we can offer them up for order. We’ll also be on the lookout for other refurbished options. With refurbs, as compared with brand new devices, there’s the little issue of supply, which is relatively low, and demand, which is clearly pretty high.

Samsung M370 flip phone

The complete absence of a flip phone in our lineup due to a parts supply issue in Asia came as a surprise to us too, as detailed in our last device update. We’ve got a large shipment that will soon make its way to our warehouse and we’ll be fulfilling M370 as quickly as possible. We’ve also updated the shipping time on new M370 orders to reflect the updated shipping information.

Airave

We gave all the details we have on the Airave coming to Ting in a dedicated Ting Airave blog post. Nothing new to report on this front. We’re still on track to offer the Airave on the site next week at the introductory sale price of $190, shipping immediately.

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.

Device update: SIII shipping details, clamshells, sliders, refurbs and more

Ting Device update: September 7, 2012

Do I still need to come up with pithy leads? Hope not. Here’s a Ting device update for this week. The big news follows. We also have some shipping details for pre-orders, new additions to our lineup, a little news on the QWERTY slider feature phone we’ve received requests for, the promise of more info to come on the Airave and a similar promise in the form of a brief BYOD update.

Samsung M370 – it’s back!

We’ve managed to get a bunch of Samsung M370s into our warehouse stock. These devices were in very short supply for everyone (including Sprint retail) due to a parts problem in Asia. We’ve grabbed plenty to meet the current and projected demand for this inexpensive clamshell feature phone. It’s back on the site and available to order now, shipping in one to two weeks.

Refurbished LG Optimus S

Just the other day we asked the Ting Facebook community whether or not we should consider adding refurbished devices to our lineup. The answer was a resounding yes with 116 votes for and only four against.

So, today, we’ve added refurbished LG Optimus S devices in purple to our lineup at $63. These aren’t brand new devices but they won’t have any noticeable flaws; it’s almost like buying a very lightly used device second-hand but with none of the bum ESN or co-opted MEID worries. Each device will come with a 30-day warranty and will be ready to activate on Ting right away.

These refurbished Optimus S’s will begin shipping in two to three weeks.

Smartphones – Shipping details

Late next week is going to be a very busy time for our warehouse. Many of the devices we ordered and offered up for pre-order will be arriving and subsequently heading straight back out the door, destined for American doorsteps.

Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order shipments

We know how frustrating it is to wait for a shiny new device to arrive. Much of our order is currently on trucks and in transit to our warehouse. We have been and will continue to do absolutely everything in our power to get these Galaxy SIIIs so we can fulfil pre-orders as quickly as possible. That includes calling everyone connected to the process (incessantly, some might argue,) and making a lot of noise. Heck, we’ll even grease palms or buy the truckers coffee after coffee to get our shipments ASAP so we can pass them along to you.

We’ve had some success, shipping out a first small batch of 32 GB Pebble Blue Galaxy SIIIs. The bulk of the 32 GB SIII pre-orders will ship late next week. Thanks to everyone for your patience. We’ve fielded a lot of questions about SIII pre-order shipments but they’ve been of the excited as opposed to angry sort. Here are some specifics:

Samsung Galaxy SIII 32 GB

Our larger order of 32 GB Samsung Galaxy SIIIs (Marble White and Pebble Blue both) are on their way to our warehouses now. That means they’ll be on their way out to pre-orderers shortly thereafter. Barring anything outside of our own control we’re looking at late next week to start shipping them out of our warehouse.

Samsung Galaxy SIII 16 GB

16 GB Samsung Galaxy SIIIs (Marble White and Pebble Blue) will be arriving in our warehouses a day or two later. We expect to have them in hand very late next week or very early the following week; basically, expect your 16 GB Samsung Galaxy SIII to leave our warehouse by Monday. This again barring any circumstances outside of our control.

Motorola Photon Q

This device is also arriving late next week and shipping out to pre-orderers. If you pre-ordered the Motorola Photon Q with its killer specs and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, you’ll be receiving it soon.

New additions

HTC EVO 4G LTE White

The most asked question when we added the HTC EVO 4G LTE in black was “will you be getting the HTC EVO 4G LTE in white?” Indeed we will. Pre-orders just opened up today. Sign up for Ting device alerts if you want to be the first to know in the future. To do so just go to the contact info pane on your Ting account page and check the appropriate box to sign up. If you don’t already have a Ting account you can sign up for an account and opt-in to device alerts and / or Ting news without having to sign up for Ting service.

As you’d expect, the only difference between the black HTC EVO 4G LTE and the white version thereof is the color. We’ll be offering the white HTC EVO 4G LTE for the same $519 ask and shipping them out in one to two weeks, along with their black brethren.

LG Viper (LTE)

The LG Viper LTE will hit the Ting devices page next week and will be available for order. Think of this as an LTE version of the Optimus Elite with a spec boost and, of course, the super fast LTE network where available. The Viper will come in at under $400 and, along with some of the other new additions both in progress and planned, will flesh out the Ting smartphone lineup to offer more device choice across multiple price points.

Feature phone

We already mentioned that we were able to add the M370 to our list of phones that are available for order. We have some news on the QWERTY slider feature phone we’ve received numerous requests for and we’re working to get in into our lineup… but it’s going to be a little while yet.

Samsung M390

The M390 will come in at under $150 and fills a gap in our current lineup. Unfortunately though, that gap will remain unfilled, likely until mid October. We’ll continue to do everything we can to push that window closer to the present day but we don’t see much in the way of wiggle room on that date at present.

Accessories

Perhaps that should read “accessory.” There’s only one entry in this category, but it’s a big one. We mentioned that we’ll be adding the Airave to our device lineup very soon. We’ve been reading all your questions about this device and we’ll have a blog post up as soon as possible dedicated just to the Airave. There, we’ll lay out pricing, how the Airave will work on your Ting account and more.

BYOD update

Response to our request for information on who’s interested in BYOD on Ting and who’s interested in being a part of the beta program has been nothing short of momentous. Thanks!

We’re currently working to create the beta program framework and we’ll have as many people as we possibly can on board in the pre-release period. Beta testers will be asked to provide us with feedback on the program as a whole so we can make the appropriate tweaks before we roll it out to the masses.

We hope to have more solid details to share in the next two or three weeks and as ever, we’ll keep you posted as we make progress.

You can, of course, still share your BYOD insights and sign up for the beta program.