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Consumer Reports’ annual cell phone service report is out.
Challengers outpace the incumbents again in 2015

Congratulations to Consumer Cellular, Republic Wireless and us! It looks like readers had some really nice things to say about us as a whole again in the annual Consumer Reports annual cell phone service ratings.

Seems we three are the new incumbent carriers. The ones to beat. So it is that we sat down together for an in-camera meeting and agreed that the innovation stops here. This far, no further. No new ideas! Unless they’re ideas on how to wring an extra few cents out of our respective customer bases.

We don’t need to say we’re kidding, do we?

Started from the bottom

Just a few years ago, we upstart carriers (MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators, if you want to get all technical) were regarded with suspicion. Now, as reports like this one from this most respected of consumer review outlets make clear, the tide is turning.

The message that MVNO customers don’t get second rate service (because they don’t) and that we’re not fly by night outfits is catching. When it comes to cell phone service, the idea that the way things have always been done is the way they’ll always be is losing ground.

The fact that we no-contract carriers are rising to the top in independent reviews like this, the most independent of reviews, is telling too. When you use the carrot and stick method to get customers (deep discounted and otherwise subsidized or $0 phones are the carrot, the contract is the stick, just to be clear) you have less incentive to keep customers happy.

Welcome home, former Solavei customers

UPDATE: This offer expired on Thursday, November 26 The form has been removed from this post as a result. We’re keeping the blog post live for reference. It will be removed on December 8, 2015, after all credits have been issued.

Solavei-logo-is-sadIn early December, Solavei, an ultimately ill-fated MVNO that used the T-Mobile network, will complete its last call. Forward its last text. Send its last byte.

Solavei is closing its doors on December 4, 2015. Customers are left to find a new home for mobile service.

Hey, wait. Crazy idea. Given that Solavei phones are compatible with Ting on a GSM network and that those customers already know exactly how that GSM network works for them, what if they were to come to Ting?

Solavei customers can bring their phone and their phone number over to a happier home… while there’s still time.

We’ll send displaced Solavei customers a free Ting SIM card plus $50 in Ting credit to get started. Just grab a screenshot of your most recent Solavei bill/invoice and fill out the form below by Wednesday, November 25 at 11:59 PM. We’ll get a SIM out to you post-haste. As soon as you receive your free Ting GSM SIM, activate your Solavei phone with Ting using the bring your phone to Ting program and bring your Solavei number too.

Be sure to activate by December 4, 2015, when Solavei is no more, to be eligible. $50 credits will be issued on December 7, 2015. Even if former Solavei customers don’t choose to come to Ting (even though they totally should), they need to port before December 4 or they risk losing their number forever.


Fare well, WiMAX

WiMAX is faster than 3G and not as fast as LTE. It’s also going away. This ultimately ill-fated mobile network technology will send its last byte on November 6, 2015.

Sprint put some bets on WiMAX. As Sprint is one of the two national network service providers we work with to offer Ting service, the shutdown affects a relatively small number of Ting customers too. If you’re saying “what’s WiMAX?” you’re probably not among those affected.

Ting customers that have a WiMAX phone on their Ting account and who have been on the WiMAX network at least once in the past few months will soon receive an email alerting them to the specifics of the situation and offering some guidance.

What happens to my WiMAX phone?

On the day the WiMAX network ceases to be, WiMAX-capable phones won’t suddenly turn into useless bricks. All WiMAX phones on Ting can also use the more widely available 3G network. What may well happen is that people in a WiMAX coverage zone will notice their download speeds have been affected. Not an ideal situation, granted, but not a terminal one.

Internet speed is not a subjective measurement

This is precisely the kind of collusion that leads to people being stuck with the same old shifty service providers. We said “shifty.” With an ‘F.’

The Longmont Compass, a local news source for Longmont, CO residents, pointed out that the fastest Internet service provider (ISP) in the region up and vanished.

Rather than a hard luck tale of an ambitious service provider whose reach exceeded its grasp, though, the truth is a much nastier.

NextLight Municipal Broadband is very much alive and well. Anyone researching local Internet options to find the fastest option in Longmont, though, might never know it. Despite the fact that they are just that: The fastest option in town. By a wide margin.

It matters to Ting Internet for obvious reasons.

In one of our earliest Ting Internet moves, we acquired a local ISP in Charlottesville, VA. By virtue, we ranked second in the list for the state of Virginia. Since the acquisition, we’ve been investing in the network and have boosted overall local average speeds by offering gigabit fiber access to more and more households and businesses. Rather than closing the gap, though, we’ve disappeared, according to Speedtest.net.

If you’ve ever researched Internet speeds, you’ve almost certainly landed on the connection speed test site Speedtest.net, which is owned by Ookla. It has been a go-to source for Internet speed information. These recent changes to the way ISPs are ranked (please read on) mean the results are so heavily weighted toward the conglomerates as to be effectively useless for anyone looking to make an informed choice. They benefit no one but the big, nationwide providers.

We came, we saw, we lit some fiber

On June 26, with Gigi Sohn of the FCC in attendance, we helped Westminster, MD light up its very own gigabit fiber network. As the exclusive provider for the first phase, we’ll be offering Ting crazy fast fiber Internet and sharing our simple, honest approach to customer service, powerful online tools, no contract and no caps for area homes and businesses.

This is the second Ting town to come online and our first of this sort of innovative (if we do say so ourselves) public/private partnership.

It’s clear that politicians and policy makers are watching the Ting and Westminster, MD partnership with great interest. We’ll do Westminster proud.

Press release (PDF)

Hi Westminster. Let’s get lit.

On June 26 starting at 3pm ET and with much fanfare, Ting and the City of Westminster, MD will light up the previously dark fiber network. A contingent of the Ting team will be on site saying hi, speaking, documenting and presenting. It’s a big deal for Westminster and for Ting.

Technology gods willing, we’ll have a live feed of the proceedings here on the local Westminster blog and the main Ting blog.

Very soon, citizens of Westminster can start signing up to get crazy fast fiber Internet from Ting, running atop their publicly-owned fiber network.

We’ll have more sign-up details to offer on the local Ting Westminster page after the fiber lighting ceremony wraps so please stay tuned. The short version, though, is that if you’re interested in Ting crazy fast Internet in Westminster, you first need to sign an access agreement (residential | business). This agreement gives City crews permission to install a fiber drop on the property. Signing this agreement sooner rather than later will put you in good stead to be among the first in your city to get gigabit, the crazy fast Internet we are convinced is required for North America to stay connected and competitive.

  • This high five was entirely spontaneous and not at all staged.