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Shopping for a GSM phone to use on Ting? Start here.

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Looking to bring a GSM device to Ting? Good choice, if we do say so ourselves. Around 80% of smartphones released in the last few years will work with Ting. This post will give you general tips to determine if a phone you have or are thinking about getting can make the move.

Before we begin

The surefire way to know if a device will activate on Ting on a GSM network is to enter its ESN, MEID or IMEI number in our compatibility checker. If you already have a GSM phone, just run these numbers to confirm your device will work on Ting. Assuming your phone is good to go, grab a GSM SIM and start the activation process once you have both in hand.

It’s not always possible to get an IMEI number. No retailer lists the IMEI number of phones it sells. Sellers in used markets may be hesitant to share this information too.

In this situation, there are two other ways you can verify whether a device will work on Ting on a GSM network:

  • The specific device model (e.g a Nexus 5 or an iPhone 6 Plus) and which carrier it’s coming from (e.g AT&T or T-Mobile).
  • The specific “bands” (measured in MHz and GHz) the device will work on.

Ting on a GSM network service is provided on the REDACTED network

Every time we mention Ting on a GSM network, we hear a familiar question: Whose network is Ting on a GSM network using? We reply with a now familiar refrain: “We can’t say, but the Ting GSM coverage map has the answers you seek.”

For a more direct (but still not actually direct) answer, the bottom of this blog post has that which you seek.

So, why can’t we just tell you which national GSM network your Ting on a GSM network service will be using?

The short answer is this: We signed a contract in good faith that agreed not to use our GSM network provider’s name in our own communications. The longer answer, though, has the context that I believe is needed.

Carriers spend millions trying to convince people that they’re different from the other carriers. That they have the innovative ideas. That they have the wireless-buying public’s best interests at heart. That their network is the most far-reaching and reliable of the lot.

For an MVNO to come in and piggyback on all that corporate propaganda hard-won public mindshare without contributing would be unfair. In theory, at least, we’d be able to cherry pick the good stuff in our own messaging while still maintaining separation enough to not be associated with the bad stuff. That would make MVNOs parasitic to the big carriers and their networks, which is not how we operate.

The big carriers, the ones that actually hold control of the networks, seem to have wised up to the fact that MVNO carriers offer a real chance at a winning situation for the carrier, the MVNO, the customer and, we’d argue, for the industry at large. A win/win/win/win, if you will.

The big carriers have softened on their previous stance which, anecdotally speaking, was “get your own damn network.” It’s obviously not a philanthropic move. It’s pure business, as is some carrier’s choice to keep their name out of it.

MVNOs should stand on their own two feet. People should have choice as to who they trust with their mobile business and innovative ideas should be all around. It’s better for everyone involved that way.

Stop saying words. Whose network does Ting on GSM use?

With CDMA service, there are clear guidelines to what we can say: “Ting (CDMA) network services are provided on the nationwide Sprint™ network.” Sprint, quite understandably, wants to control the way this message is presented, and that’s the way we’re supposed to present it (well, I added the parenthetical reference to the CDMA network that this parenthetical reference… references).

Our GSM network provider has stricter rules that preclude us saying its name at all, which it apparently believes would connect them in a meaningful way to Ting service. We can’t say in a public forum like this. We’d like you to know, though, because it can help to make the decision of which network choice is right for you.

So, then “Ting (GSM) networks services are NOT provided on the AT&T network.”

I think that about covers it.

Five inexpensive smartphones that are anything but cheap

Kyocera-Hydro-VibeThere’s a movement afoot: Smartphones that cost much less than you’d think but that can do much more than you might expect.

Whether browsing the web, using your favorite apps, sharing snaps or video chatting with friends, you don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to get your hands on a quality smartphone that does exactly what you need it to.

Following are five inexpensive smartphones across both our CDMA and GSM network offerings that offer a great smartphone experience and, that you can actually afford to buy without signing onto an onerous mobile contract.

1. Hydro Vibe [On sale for $159] – CDMA

If durability is your primary concern, the Hydro Vibe where it’s at. No need to shell out $500+ for a waterproof Galaxy S5 – the Hydro Vibe is IP57 certified, meaning you’re fully protected in up to 3.28 feet of water for 30 minutes.

Equipped with impact-resistant glass, it’s built to take a few tumbles. If you’re a clumsy character, look no further than Kyocera’s Hydro Vibe.

Changes to the BYOD program: The good, the bad and the ugly

UPDATE 3: Progress! More than 30 million devices that would previously have failed Sprint’s financial eligibility date (FED) check will now pass.

Now, devices that were freed from a contract due to a hardware upgrade (that is to say, you got a new a new phone on the same contract) will clear the FED check. Likewise, with the exception of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, any device that was activated 12 or more months ago, regardless of whether it’s currently active, will clear. This applies to devices associated with postpaid accounts only.

If you tried to bring your device to Ting previously but failed due to FED, please try again.

UPDATE 2: We’ve put together a program to make it right for people who are caught on the wrong side of Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check (FEC). All the details are in this blog post: Offer for customers who bought a device that has failed the financial eligibility check.

UPDATE: Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check (FEC) that runs prior to a device being activated with an MVNO like Ting, has been very poorly implemented. Customers of MVNOs are the ones bearing the brunt of this poor implementation. We are very sorry.

Just because your device is being rejected right now doesn’t mean it can never be activated on Ting. You may just seeing the effect of this poor implementation. Even some devices purchased unlocked, directly from the manufacturer (e.g some Nexus 5 and 6, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Moto X / G etc. devices) are coming back as being “financially ineligible” from Sprint. They are, quite obviously, not financially ineligible as they weren’t purchased from Sprint.

Because of the poor implementation of this new Sprint program, we’re not seeing data which would help us to determine which of these FEC rejections are valid catches of devices that do, in fact, still have some kind of financial obligation to Sprint, and which are being erroneously flagged despite the fact that Sprint has no claim on them.

We’re chasing down all the information we can get our hands on and we’ll keep this blog post updated with the latest news as we get it.

Until recently, the Ting BYOD program has been limited to devices that are Sprint compatible and that Sprint has had in the market for over a year. Today, all of that changed. Spurred on by the new industry unlocking rules we discussed last week, Sprint changed their policy. Now, there are fewer limitations on which devices can be brought to an MVNO that uses the Sprint network, like Ting.

Under the new BYOD rules, the only requirements are that the device being brought to Ting be Sprint network compatible and also be in good financial standing with Sprint. That is to say, fully paid for, not reported lost or stolen and not tied to an account with an outstanding balance.

It’s a much more sensible system all things considered.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that some devices that previously would have had no trouble coming to Ting are now being blocked from making the move, basically because the owner hasn’t paid his or her final bill… most likely because they haven’t actually received that final bill. Yeah.

As it stands, if you bought a Sprint device on a contract, you will have to settle up your bill or any other outstanding balance with Sprint before we can activate the device on Ting. Until your final bill is paid in full, Sprint will block your device from being reactivated. This complicates things if you’re looking to move your Sprint device to Ting at the same time you move your Sprint number to Ting. It’s a classic (very annoying) catch 22.

New unlocking rules should mean more phone freedom

chairNew carrier rules dealing with locking and unlocking phones come into full effect today.

In short: Going forward, unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money, said carrier will unlock the phone if asked to do so. Carriers have the option to do so automatically as soon as a contract term is fulfilled, but we won’t hold our breath for that.

For prepaid carriers, the carrier must allow a device to be unlocked one year after it was first activated.

It’s called the Consumer Code for Wireless Service and February 11, 2015 was the deadline for full carrier compliance.

It wouldn’t be difficult to argue that these new unlocking rules don’t go far enough or that they only came about because the other option was looking like regulation. Still, it’s a real win for “consumers.”

Why Ting on a GSM network is kind of a big deal

We’ll be hosting a Ting hangout tomorrow, Thursday, December 11 2014 at 3pm ET to discuss the GSM announcement and other exciting stuff. That’s 1500 hours for the more militaristic among us.

Turns out, not everyone is interested in reading a big dissertation on Ting adding service on a GSM network in February of 2015.

I know!

The best place to keep up to date with (and maybe secure a spot in an early beta) is on the Ting on a GSM network email list. Sign up after the jump, at the bottom of this blog post.

Now, with none of the nuance or arguably enjoyable turns of phrase (and without our epic Ting GSM SIM video embedded) here are the Ting on a GSM network bullet points: