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Reading Your Phone Bill

We did some listening sessions earlier this week with mobile users (otherwise known as people) to learn about what’s not making sense in mobile phone service and how Ting can do things differently.

We asked folks to bring their current phone bills to the discussion.

But before we got to the bills, we talked a bit about about plans, usage and budgets. Almost everybody in the room at some point described themselves as heavy data users (hogs, whores, junkies, lots of unflattering metaphors). Many said they simply needed an unlimited data plan, at any price, because they would inevitably bust through limits and suffer huge overage penalties. (Don’t get me started on overage penalties. What other service industry penalizes customers for using more of a service? Isn’t that what you want customers to do? I’ll save that for another post.)

Then we asked them to read their bills and figure out how much data they actually used last month.

That’s when it got fun.

Lots of people admitted they had never looked at their bill before. Many leafed through pages and pages trying to find their data usage. Binder clips flew. Highly educated grown-ups debated about the relationship between a kilobyte and a megabyte.

There was (seriously) confusion, frustration, laughter and anger.

Once they got to the appropriate line item, almost everybody ended up realizing that they don’t use nearly as much data as they thought they did. It makes sense. We spend a lot of time on WiFi networks. And most of the activities we do when we are between networks (home and work) – emailing, tweeting, even browsing – just don’t really use that much data.

They realized that they are wasting money every month on data they don’t need.

Then we gave them a Ting plan and asked them to calculate how much they would save. You’ll hear more about that soon. Meanwhile, when you have some time, you should really read your phone bill.

Hello World!

Hello world!

On behalf of everyone at Tucows, I’d like to introduce you to Ting.

Ting is a new mobile phone service launching in the US later this year. Our mission is to bring clarity and control to mobile services – and hopefully to save people some money along the way.

Why is Tucows launching a mobile service? Good question! Let me provide some background and context to explain why this isn’t as crazy as it may seem.

At its core, Tucows’ purpose is to create simple useful services that help people unlock the power of the Internet. All of us here believe that the Internet is the single greatest agent of change the world has ever seen. It’s the love of seeing people getting online and participating in any way they can that gets us up in the morning.

And because of that we’ve been building simple, useful services for a long time.

In 1994 we were TUCOWS, one of the first, best and largest web sites dedicated to helping people use the Internet. That tradition continues at our software download site tucows.com/downloads.

In 1999 as one of the first post-monopoly domain registrars we invented the concept of wholesale domain registration. Not only did this make it easier (and cheaper) for people to buy domains it also made it easy (and cheaper) for businesses like web hosts, ISPs and Internet free agents to sell domains. That focus helped OpenSRS become the success it is now, with over 11,000 resellers in over 110 countries managing over 11,000,000 domains.

In 2008 we launched Hover whose singular mission is to be the best way to buy and manage domain names. Hover has been a great success because of its dedication to being simple and useful and getting away from the cluttered, upsell-filled experience most people equate with buying a domain.

Now in 2011 we’re about to launch Ting. We feel that a lot of what people are forced to put up with from mobile service providers just doesn’t make sense. It’s too complicated, too opaque, too adversarial, too expensive and frankly too inhuman.

We think we can change that.

We want Ting to be a mobile service that makes sense.

We’ve spent the last year or so thinking about what that means. “A mobile service that makes sense”.

We’ve talked to a lot of people and watched the industry struggle with the rapid move to phones as computers with all the complexity that entails. There seems to be an opportunity – let’s be honest – a LOT of opportunity – for someone from outside the mobile service industry to come in and make sense of all this. To look at providing people with a simple, useful mobile service the way an Internet company would approach it rather than how the telecom giants have done it.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing more about our vision for Ting. We’ll let you know what we came up with when we started thinking about “mobile service that makes sense” and we’ll ask you for your insights. What do you think Ting should tackle? What drives you crazy? What just doesn’t make sense for you?

You can sign up to get notifications about Ting and if you’re really keen you can ask to join our closed private beta. You can also follow us on Twitter (we’re @tingFTW).