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Why is Ting so cheap?

We’re not going to lie to you. We respect you too much for that.

This post is here so that people using the search term “why is Ting so cheap?” get the whole story and details on “why is Ting so cheap” from us rather than getting half the story elsewhere.

Ting is indeed “cheap,” relative to what other carriers charge. The word “cheap” has negative connotations so we prefer to call ourselves inexpensive and our customers smart. Our no-hold customer service policy where you call and a real, live person picks up the phone ready to help isn’t what you’d expect from a “cheap” carrier. That said, we’ll stick with “why is Ting so cheap” for this discussion. If only because that’s probably the search term that brought you here.

We’d love if you’d read on and let us explain how Ting is inexpensive as opposed to cheap too.

That said…

Why is Ting so cheap?

adoreting-slider (cropped)With Ting, the average monthly cost per device is $23 and the average Ting bill is $31.50. Ting service is on the Nationwide Sprint* network and a nationwide GSM network, which both offer the latest and greatest network access (Tri-Band LTE and 4G/LTE).

We offer voice roaming (including text messages) on the Verizon and AT&T network at no extra charge should you find yourself in one of the few places our carrier partner’s don’t reach.

More though, the way we approach mobile is fundamentally different. It all boils down to this: We think people are smarter than the mobile service status quo gives them credit for.

Pay for what you use

Screenshot 2014-01-30 13.39.32Rather than lock you into a plan, Ting instead offers simple and easy to understand rates. You start out the month with a flat $6 per active device on your account. As (or if) you use minutes, messages and megabytes of data, you move through the small, medium and large service levels until you reach XL. If your account goes beyond XL for minutes, messages or megabytes, you pay a very reasonable 1.9¢ per voice minute, ¼¢ per text message and 1½¢ per megabyte of data.

Without changing your mobile habits at all, chances are Ting will save you money. Taking a simple step like using Wi-Fi at home and / or in the office though, you can save even more.

Compare that with a bundled mobile plan where you’re really picking the plan that fits the least poorly of the lot.

Stuff that should be included is included

Other cell phone service providers want to charge a per-device fee for things like tethering, three-way calling, voicemail, caller ID and so on. With Ting, these things are included at no extra charge.

It just makes sense.

Tools that put customers in control

Screenshot 2014-01-09 14.52.08If there was an award for the cleanest and most powerful customer control panel, we’re pretty confident The Ting account dashboard would take the prize.

We don’t hide any capabilities and we put the power in our customers hands.

Want to set a hard cap on a device under your account so that data is disabled once it reaches a threshold you choose? No problem. Want to turn tethering on or off for a device on your account? Go ahead. You can activate and deactivate devices, turn services like international calling, picture and video messaging and many more on or off in your dashboard.

With Ting, you’re in the driver’s seat.

No “free” phones

ETFpicOther carriers offer $0 or otherwise heavily subsidized phones in exchange for you signing a contract. They recoup the money they fronted you (and then some) in the form of inflated service costs and recovery fees.

That’s not our MO.

With Ting, you can get a new device or buy refurbished from us. We sell devices at or at very near our own cost. Therefore, we don’t need to recoup that money elsewhere and we can instead focus on and invest in customer service.

Sustainable business

We earn a fair and sustainable margin on the service we sell. We don’t load you down with confusing bundled plans and we don’t saddle you with 1,000 voice minutes just because you want a gig of data. Similarly, we don’t charge recovery fees or try to squeak extra line items past you.

We’d rather be clear and upfront about our offerings because we believe that people are smart enough to make the decision that’s right for them. So far, so good on that front!

No hidden BS

You know what they say about death and taxes. We can’t help you with the former… but we can promise we won’t add to the pain of the latter by charging recovery or disbursement fees.

With Ting, the tax you pay is the tax we’re legally required to collect and remit on your behalf. No more, no less.

We’ll never tack on extra fees or ding you for something as simple as turning on tethering or activating your voicemail.

Cheap vs. inexpensive

Now, for the all-important differentiation between “cheap” and “inexpensive.”

Cheap is cutting customer service to the bone and / or outsourcing.

Cheap is offering only a couple of undesirable devices and asking customers to settle in exchange for a low monthly cell phone bill.

Cheap is telling people how to use their cell phones and then penalizing them if they don’t do things your way.

Cheap is running a crappy Compuserve-era web site.

These, and the many other examples we could rhetorically provide, is why we prefer to say Ting offers inexpensive cell phone service to smart people as opposed to cheap cell phone service.

Why choose a no contract carrier?

homepageImages_contractWhen you’re looking for cell phone service, you have more choices available today than ever before.

You can shop around and compare between the four major carriers. They make a big deal about competing between themselves. The truth is though, it’s in the no-contract carriers where you see the real innovation and ultimately, the best pricing.

Here are five reasons to consider a no-contract carrier for your family or business mobile phone service.

1- No contracts

We’ll start out with an easy and obvious one: One of the key benefits of a no-contract carrier is that there are no contracts.

With a major carrier, you typically sign on for a couple of years at a set billing level. In return, you might receive what looks like a deal on a subsidized phone.

Make no mistake: You’re paying for that device several times over the course of a typical two-year agreement because you’re paying much more than you need to each month on your mobile bill.

2- Un-Bundles

Contract carriers want to sell you huge amounts of stuff you don’t necessarily need. Maybe you just want voice minutes and text messages but you don’t want to pay for a data plan. Maybe you want some data and some voice minutes but not text messaging. Maybe you want to use a little bit of mobile data, just for email for example, but you don’t want to pay the exorbitant rates a contract carrier demands.

Whatever the combination, some no-contract carriers let you choose and ultimately pay for just what you actually need as opposed to making you choose a bundled plan (uh, that’d be us, just to be crystal clear).

3- Price

This is really what it all comes down to. No-contract carriers offer a better deal than the big guys. By offering services that use the established mobile networks in the US but without actually owning that infrastructure, no-contract carriers have room to offer better, more sane pricing.

4- Innovation

While the big contract carriers are big ships that take a long time to adjust to changing currents, smaller, no-contract carriers have room to innovate.

As soon as you break free from the major carriers, your eyes open to a whole world of choice. There are no-contract mobile phone services that let you have a voice minutes-only plan (as opposed to bundling in a data plan you may not need or want). There are no-contract mobile phone services that use existing Wi-Fi networks to cut down on costs, there are no-contract carriers that offer a small amount of free service in exchange for you listening to ads. There are companies that only ask customers to only pay for what they actually use as opposed to struggling to use what they’re paying for (again, that’s us).

5- Customer service

It makes sense that a smaller company should care more about customer service. Not all the no-contract carriers have invested in customer support. With some no-contract carriers, most notably Ting, excellent customer service is a core ideal. You have an account number but you’re much more than just that number. For example, one of Ting’s core promises is to pick up the phone when customers call. Try it for yourself: 1-855-846-4389

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

money_shot_after_break_apart_03 copy

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.