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Device update: Samsung Galaxy SIII on Ting

In our previous device update, we mentioned that it’s always darkest before the dawn; getting the latest and greatest devices and keeping the tried and true handsets in stock has proven to be our biggest challenge to date. With that in mind…

Let there be light!

We’re super excited about the Ting device roadmap looks for the next few months and beyond. We’re focussing this device update on a few phones that are either coming soon or back in stock. Let’s get started with the news we’re perhaps the most eager to talk about, the first LTE device available on Ting…

Samsung Galaxy SIII

It’s coming! On our recent trip to Sprint HQ, we got a lot accomplished. A lot of back-end stuff we’ll be sharing in the coming months. Most notable, at least in the near-term, is the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

The SIII hits as we flip the switch to begin offering LTE wherever Sprint’s LTE network reaches. It’s now available for pre-order and will ship in three to six weeks. We recently had a chance to test-drive LTE. It’s difficult to describe how fast without dipping into our pool of expletives and superlatives. Suffice it to say though, “speeds that rival your home wired Internet connection” are not just hyperbole. LTE is insanely fast and coming soon for Ting customers.

We realize this is a pretty wide window and harkens back to the halcyon days of comic book ads when you’d have to check the mailbox every day to see if your Sea Monkeys had arrived yet. We’re sorry we can’t be more specific; chalk it up to moving parts and not wanting to make promises we can’t keep. Three weeks is the best case, six is the worst and somewhere in between is most likely. We’ll communicate throughout the process so you’re always in the loop.

Ting will offer four different versions of the Samsung Galaxy SIII. “Pebble Blue” and “Marble White” with a 16GB and 32GB version of each color. The 16GB in either color goes for $539. The 32GB versions are $579.

Better yet: we’re giving away two free SIIIs. For pre-orders of any one of the Samsung Galaxy SIII color and capacity variations, we’ll refund the full device sticker price to two of the first 200 pre-orders, upon activation. If you’re one of the fortunate two, you’ll only be on the hook for the taxes as crediting those raises IRS issues which no one in their right mind wants to wade in to.

Check out the Ting devices page hit the pre-order pages for the Pebble Blue 16GB, the Pebble Blue 32GB, the Marble White 16GB or the Marble White 32GB to drop some hard-earned on what is quite possibly the coolest phone in the known universe. Not to oversell it or anything.

LG Optimus Elite – White

The LG Optimus Elite takes over for the most popular Ting smartphone to date, the LG Optimus S. The LG Optimus Elite is back in stock after some supply issues and also, starting today, is also available in a white model. The Elite is available in black and white variations and comes in at under $200. If you’ve already pre-ordered an LG Optimus Elite, you’ll get yours first. Only fair, right?

We’ve made a lot of progress toward rectifying the supply issues we’ve faced in trying to keep a healthy stock of Ting devices available. We feel we’ve got a much better handle on the situation and our partners are stepping up their respective games to ensure we don’t have another challenging device period like the one we’re now emerging from.

Check out the LG Optimus Elite and the LG Optimus Elite White

Samsung Transform Ultra

Another popular phone, the $205 Samsung Transform Ultra moves from backorder to in-stock. If you made a backorder purchase, your phone will leave the warehouse on Monday Aug. 6 if indeed it doesn’t start its journey on Friday.

Device sale continues!

The device sale that sees the Samsung Galaxy SII in white at $435 ($50 off), the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot at $110 ($15 off) and the Sierra 250u at $77 ($23 off) continues! We’re fast running out of the Galaxy SII White and when they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

In other news…

We’re continuously working to get the gear you want into our lineup. In our next device update, we’ll have some more exciting news on this front. Spoiler alert: that means things like an LTE hotspot, a mid-range LTE smartphone, an inexpensive slider, an accessible phone for the visually impaired or really, anyone that prefers big buttons and large fonts and the very early stages of a bring your own device plan.

We’re also working to get a Windows Phone handset for the devotees we’ve been hearing from. Unfortunately, this is a bit further out, likely in Q1 in 2013.

On another oft-requested phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we’ve not made much progress in getting Google to give it up. As it stands, the only way to get the Galaxy Nexus onto Ting is with some hacking. As such, it’s not for the faint of heart but if you’re the hacker sort, we won’t stand in the way of your efforts.

We’re also working hard get the iPhone. No earth shattering news on that front as yet but we’re definitely seeing some progress.

Dawn rising in Overland, Kansas during our visit to Sprint HQ earlier this week

Ting customer Q&A – Tom Kostera

Tom Kostera

Ting customer since: Apr 2012
Previous carrier: Sprint
Monthly savings with Ting: About $104/mo.

Where did you first hear about Ting?

Ting was suggested to me in a webforum that I belong to, in the general discussion section of AR15.com

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?

I was close to the end of my contract with another carrier and was looking for a no contract option. After investigating Ting, I was very happy to find that you used usage-based pricing, as we had been on an unlimited plan that was way more than we needed. I had looked at changing plans with my former carrier, but the lower thresholds wouldn’t have done much to save any money, and in some cases, would have been even more expensive. Ting offers a pricing structure that allows me to structure my usage and billing as I see fit. I am also very happy that Ting offers voice roaming, as that was a show stopper for me on the pre-paid carriers that I had also been researching (Virgin, etc)

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?

I am a former Sprint employee and had been using Sprint service for over 8 years. At the time I was made aware of Ting, I was very close to the end of my latest contract and actively shopping for a new carrier or better pricing option. I had no termination fees to pay.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?

I had a total of two devices (my wife and I) on the Sprint Everything Data Family Plan. Including taxes and fees, I was paying $147 a month to Sprint. After I switched to Ting, my monthly bill ranged from $23 to $62 a month as I experimented with the plans and got used to using our wifi connection at home to reduce data usage. I have settled into a constant $43 a month (including taxes and fees). I’m extremely happy with my savings of $104 a month.

How many phones and/or data devices do you have on your Ting plan?

2

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?

There is some confusion when they see a Sprint logo on my phone. We have deregulated natural gas service in our area, so I explain it to them using that model, as it is one that they are familiar with – a company providing service over another company’s infrastructure and competing on pricing and service. The message is usually well-received, but the upfront purchase of the phones seems to be an impediment to those who have known nothing but subsidized hardware. Even after taking them through your savings application and factoring in the hardware pricing over a 2 year term, many seem hesitant to make the leap. I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of the bad economy or being used the carrier “candy” or both.

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

Yes, I’m very happy with the switch to Ting. The pricing can’t be beat for how we use our phones and while I have only had to interact with customer service twice (both times with questions, never a problem), I have found them to be pleasant and knowledgeable. I love that there is no phone tree to go through and live person who works in the United States is eager to answer my question with no drama.

What should we be doing better?

I don’t think that anything that I would suggest is something that you can control. There are some dead-spot issues with the Sprint network and I would love to see data roaming. As a former employee, the Sprint network is the Sprint network and while there may be incremental slow improvement in coverage, they have never been really responsive to complaints of dead spots. There are some just outside the Sprint campus in Overland Park, KS that have been there for years! Also, I understand that data roaming is insanely expensive when dealing with the carriers, so while I would love to have it, I understand that it’s not going to happen.

Do MVNOs get second class cell service?

We’ve fielded this question several times and we hear whispers that voice, text and data traffic from MVNOs like Ting get shoved aside, like so many serfs, in favor of the network operator’s own customer traffic.

There’s a certain dark logic to it: serve your customers first and best and let the rest sell the leftovers. However that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s not true.

The truth of the matter is, Sprint’s MVNO contract states that Sprint must provide its Customer MVNOs with service parity to traditional Sprint wireless voice and data service. It’s all laid out in very clear terms. Well, as clear as terms can be when lawyers come together to create a tome.

In short, Ting voice, text and data traffic gets equal priority on the network as all traffic is equal regardless of which customer is using it. Also, there’s plenty of bandwidth to go around. The LTE network that’s coming online, starting in major city centers, offers 10 times the capacity of 3G, which means there’s all kinds of room to grow too.

The problem is, the discussion of whether or not carriers throttle and traffic shape MVNOs on their network takes on a conspiratorial tone online. I know, it’s shocking! Suppositions get accepted as fact. Assumptions leap off from suppositions and next thing you know, it’s all true because someone read it on the Internet. Hopefully this helps to dispel the myth… though the truth is somewhat less juicy than the rumor in this case.

Summer Photo Fun contest!

© Copyright Ross and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

We just launched the Ting Summer Photo Fun event. Submit a photo to the Facebook Summer Photo Fun event page for a chance to win one of… well, one white Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone. The winner will be selected based on the number of Likes their picture receives. Invite your friends and ask them to vote for your pic.

The even runs until July 31 at 10am EST when we’ll crunch the numbers and figure out who the winner is.

A bit of weirdness we need to point out. If you win, we’ll give you a device credit to cover the full purchase price. However, you’ll still have to “buy” the device from Ting. If your state collects sales tax, you’ll have to pay that amount, but we’ll immediately give you a full Ting service credit to cover this cost.

Any device can be a Ting device

I had a revelation last week.

Now, to be fair, my situation is different from most Ting customers (even beyond the fact that I am on the Ting team and would probably give up vital organs to see Ting succeed.) I live in Toronto. I do not use Ting every day. But I am from the US and I spend at least a few days there every month on business or visiting friends and family. So, I carry a Ting phone with me whenever I travel.

This past week I was on vacation in upstate New York (on beautiful Keuka Lake) carrying a Ting LG Optimus S along with my Canada-based Google Nexus. I was curious to see whether an entry level Android phone like that was potentially perfectly adequate for my needs. (This story would be exactly the same if it was the $145 Kyocera Milano we currently have in stock.)

I did not have Wifi available to me.

I pretty quickly admitted to myself that the experience was a huge step down for two reasons. First, the Google Nexus is a much sweeter device. You get what you pay for. Second, I have put a ton of time and effort into the Nexus, assembling all my applications, getting my whole world syncing properly and setting a thousand silly little preferences exactly the way I liked them. (I have to say, truly giving myself up to the world of Google has helped with a lot of this. I can move pretty easily from one device to the next on the most crucial stuff. But, again, there are still so many other choices and settings that make a device mine.)

I had started to invest some time downloading apps and setting preferences on the Optimus. I also spent a bit of time just staring at my Nexus, maybe expecting it to pick up some rogue wave of spectrum from the north.

Then I remembered I could turn my Optimus into a hotspot and tether the Nexus to it. Essentially, any device can be a Ting device. (I did this for the iPad on the drive, but the phone-to-phone thing hadn’t occurred to me.)

For the rest of the week, I kept the Optimus nearby and just used the Nexus exactly the way I always do. I only made and received a few phone calls all week and I used the Optimus for that. I’m traveling to Boston next week for HostingCon and this is exactly what I will do again. I’m not making any effort to configure the Optimus at all to my liking (as I normally would before a trip). It’s simply a data conduit and a feature phone.

By the way, I know that I have not made a profound, new discovery here. Services are built on this concept. Ting customers have talked about it. I guess I even knew it myself. But revelations tend to happen when you experience something for yourself. For me, this approach delivered just the experience I wanted. I got to use Ting service (prices, coverage, support) with my favorite device.

So, I’m thinking about how much we are stressing about our device selection. I’m listening to all our customers and prospects who are (seemingly rightfully) concerned about bringing their existing devices or getting the hot new ones. And I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t such a major problem.

I see a few issues.

    • You are carrying around two devices. Whether I’m toting a laptop or random daddy stuff, I tend to always have a backpack on me. So this isn’t a big issue for me. But I know this will be annoying for a lot of people. Maybe we include a pair of branded cargo pants with every low end Ting smartphone!
    • It will be confusing to go back and forth between a data device and a voice device. I only get the names of my two daughters right about 40% of the time. I’m sure I will mess this up a lot.
    • Occasionally you want a relationship between data and voice, like dialing a number straight from a map.

But these feel completely bearable to me now. I’m thinking $145 for a Kyocera Milano lets you bring any smartphone you want to Ting. Full stop. Am I just drowning in Kool-Aid here? Are there major issues that I’m not thinking about? Is the two device life a bigger burden to others than it is to me?

I would love to hear what people think.

(Note: Please do not interpret this post as an indication that we will not beg, borrow and steal to get every sweet device we possibly can for you. I don’t even tell anybody here when I write these posts. I refer you back to Scott’s post for a more credible and responsible update on our effort to get more Ting devices.)

A Ting device update: here now, coming soon and beyond

Photo by Ting Employee Frank Lemire

It has been an exciting month since our last device update. While it has certainly been the most challenging in our short lifetime, we continue to make improvements and learn valuable lessons. We had anticipated further stress on the device ecosystem as a result of the deployment of LTE, but we were a little surprised at some of the issues we encountered. There is an expression “it is always darkest before the dawn,” and while we have had some challenges in the last 30 days, we are quite optimistic that things are going to get better in the near term.

As a public company, there are restrictions around how much information we can share in regards to our sales performance, but I can say that we have been doing well in spite of having some holes in our device lineup. This has placed additional stress on our inventory, but unlike many of the other challenges we have faced, we are thrilled to have this problem! Thanks to all who have helped spread the word!

Ting devices available now or coming soon

One of our most popular devices, the LG Optimus S, has sold out as of last week. We were always planning to replace it with the next generation model, but we were caught short-handed and had hoped to have it around for a little longer. The new Optimus Elite will be made available for sale as soon as we have confidence in shipping dates. Hopefully this will be online for pre-order in the next two weeks. We are working on getting some more Optimus S at a reduced price point, but can not confirm this today.

The Samsung Conquer is back in stock after being on backorder, however this device will no longer be available once we sell our current inventory. So if you are planning on getting this device, order soon!

The Samsung Transform Ultra is a very capable and popular device. We’re pleased to report we have it in stock again. After slipping into a backorder state recently, we have a good supply and expect to have it in our lineup for the next few months. We have had lots of positive feedback from customers on this well designed phone.

In the feature phone segment, we know there is a LOT of demand for a flip phone. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have had a hole in this segment for longer than we would like. The Kyocera Brio is a great value in the low-end, but for those who MUST have a flip phone, we expect to offer the Samsung M370 for pre-order in the next 2-3 weeks.

Looking further ahead…

Early in the fall we expect to offer a new Samsung slider at a great price point. It looks like we will also have a feature phone designed for seniors. That is, it has a large, easy to see and use numeric pad NOT a built in bingo app. Perfect for getting Grandma and Grandpa saving with Ting.

We are in the process of building in support for LTE within our backend systems, and while it is not that big of a job for our rockstar development team, there are some dependencies outside our control that prevent me from giving a firm launch date today. This is a high priority for us though, as many of the iconic devices we plan on offering in the fall will be LTE devices.

The LG Viper will be our first LTE device, available for ~$365 when we launch LTE. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC Evo 4G will be available shortly thereafter, barring any issues outside our control.

We have had a lot of demand for the Google Galaxy Nexus, and have spent a lot of time working on being able to get it for you. Because it is an LTE device,  we must first launch LTE before making it available. I wish I could tell you that I am certain we will be able to get it after we launch LTE, but as of this morning I can not do that. Rest assured we are working on it, and if there is any way we can, we will.

The word on Windows 8 devices is that we are waiting for more information on what the roadmap looks like for later this year. My sense is that these plans are being finalized now / soon, and once we have more details we can properly evaluate how that might work for us. We have had a lot of demand for Windows devices, and we hear you!

Ting devices: On sale now!

As a token of our appreciation to everyone who has provided us with feedback, promoted our services, helped out other customers in the forums, or just been patient in waiting for devices to ship or become available, we are having an impromptu “it’s summer and we are always learning more about the device supply chain” sale (catchy title, no?) on some devices. Anyone who bought these devices in the last 30 days can contact customer support to get a credit for the difference.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 (white) is back in stock, and we are pleased to offer it for $435, saving you $50!

After some supply issues, we are relieved to have the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot back in stock and available for sale, at a reduced price of $110! Supplies are limited though, so don’t delay if you want one.

We have also reduced the price for the Sierra 250U 3G/4G USB data stick as of today, and is a great value for Windows users. Once we sell through our current inventory they will no longer be available.

If you are interested in having us contact you with breaking device news as it happens, you can sign up for our red alert, super special, breathless, breaking device news mailing list using the form below, or follow us on Facebook / Twitter.

As always, thanks for your comments, questions, and support of Ting!