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An unlocked phone means more phone freedom

unlocked phone

New rules provide new freedoms for your unlocked phone

New 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 unlocked phone 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:

Five reasons never to accept a “free” or cheap phone

PrintMaybe we should warn adults about the dangers of taking free phones from corporate entities like we warn kids about taking candy from strangers.

First, the painful truth: “free” smartphones are anything but. Deeply discounted smartphones purchased from a cell phone carrier may look good at first blush. Ultimately though, over the course of a two-year term, it’s a more expensive way to get a phone.

You’re much better buying your phone outright, either from a carrier that doesn’t “lock” phones (i.e., not one of the “big four” carriers in the US) or from a retail store. Ask specifically for unlocked devices and you’ll then have your choice of which carrier you choose to accept service from.

Let’s just reiterate that: Which carrier you choose to accept service from. With an unlocked phone, you’re in the power position, not the carrier.

The average Ting customer has saved $37.57 per device a month

Welcome to the latest edition of:
“How Many Freaking Ways Can I Articulate How Much Money People Save With Ting?!”

A couple of months ago, we created a little form for Ting customers to answer two simple questions:
– What was your bill before you came to Ting?
– How many devices did you have on your account?

So far, only about 4% of our customers have answered. That’s not nearly enough yet to do all the fun stuff we’d like to do with this information. (I’ll elaborate.) But it is more than enough to draw some statistically significant conclusions on the aggregate. And here’s the big one:

The average Ting customer has saved $37.57 per device a month on their bill versus their previous plan.

We have already revealed how little Ting customers pay. I love this data because it goes one step further, addressing any suspicion that maybe our customers never paid much even before they came to Ting. (Maybe they didn’t have friends. Or fingers!) They did. They paid $37.57 more a month per device.

I also love it because it highlights just how easy it is to cover the upfront cost of a device with these savings. It’s $900 over two years. Even if were comparing this to a contract plan that requires $0 down on a phone. Even if you just threw your old phone in the garbage. That can buy you any device on the planet.

Now, for Ting customers, there’s so much more I’d like to do with this data on an individual level.

– We can have leaderboards and contests (like the aforementioned Game of Phones) and give out prizes
– We can offer insights or suggestions if you are not saving much money with Ting
– We can help you sweep monthly savings into interest bearing accounts or charitable donations

But we need for more people to play along. So, if you have not already done so, please take a few seconds to fill in the data. (You need to be logged into your account.)  Thanks. Now get back to your saving.

Breaking news: iPhone 5’s just as good as they were two days ago

jordanWhen I was buying basketball shoes in my early twenties, I always asked the staff at Foot Locker for last year’s Air Jordans. I couldn’t care less about having the latest shoe. I liked Nike because it was light and cushiony. I needed ankle protection and I needed any help I could get on my first step more than I needed patent leather. While the latest shoe might actually have been a bit lighter and even more cushiony, I knew the price was inflated by the kids who wanted the latest thing (and patent leather) and the price of last year’s shoe was deflated versus its true functional worth because all those kids didn’t want it.

The iPhone 6 looks awesome. I would never want to pretend otherwise. It has huge functional benefits. I wish we supported it today and I can’t wait until we do. It is a great day for early adopters.

But it is also a great day for bargain hunters.

It is always helpful to remind ourselves that while the new product is better, the old one hasn’t gotten any worse. That seems obvious. But we tend to think about everything in relative terms.

Ting customers spend less

Every time a major wireless carrier piles more gigabytes onto their “family plan” or lowers the price of their “starter plan,” we get the same questions and claims.

Does Ting charge less than AT&T for 10 GB?!
I can pay less for 2 GB on T-Mobile!

Forget how much money you are wasting if you go under that 10GB on AT&T in a given month. Forget what happens to you if you go over the 2GB on T-Mobile in a given month. Forget which company you would trust when you have a problem or which company you would most want to have over for dinner.

The simple answer is this. We have over 70,000 Ting customers now and they are spending less money on their cellphone bills than anybody spends on any of the major carriers by using less.

These are iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users. They are educated, employed and banked. They love email, Facebook, podcasts and Taylor Swift videos. They have just decided that they do not want to spend $100 a month on their family phone bill. In fact, they do not want to spend $45 for a single device. So they are using Wi-Fi whenever it is available. They are preloading or turning off videos in Facebook and Instagram. They are setting up alerts just to let them know when they’ve reached certain levels every month.

Here are the results in black and white for the month of July. These are mean bills and usage levels…

july bills

(If you are an analyst or investor poking around in my conversation with regular people here, this is not data we intend to disclose regularly going forward. Don’t start building models or tracking trends. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about how much folks need and how much they should spend on their cellphones. I thought it would be helpful and refreshing to reveal this one very specific snapshot.)

If you simply do not want to think about your mobile usage at all, then you should absolutely enjoy the luxury of not thinking about it. We all choose items in our life where we budget and items where we splurge. I have been bringing a sandwich to work for lunch and wearing the same pair of shoes every weekday for over three years. I also take family vacations in southern France.

If you want to spend less than $25 a month on your smartphone bill, ask over 70,000 Ting customers how they do it. They tend to be happy to share and their suggestions may be surprisingly easy to implement.