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What the Heck is a G and
How Many Do I Need?

At Ting, we’re fans of simplicity. We like to offer simple tools you can use to decide if Ting is right for you. If it is, we give you simple tools to take control of your account.

Mobile standards, that is 3G, 4G et. al., are the latest in a long series of ways major telcos confuse us, whether unintentionally or otherwise. As Doc Searles pointed out in a recent article, major telcos often operate as confusopolies; they provide the illusion of choice but in the end, consumers end up picking the plan and service level that’s … the least crappy, for want of a better description.

People want the fastest mobile data, the highest call quality and the most reliable communications. They understand (at least in general terms) that means 4G.

Now we’re hearing more and more about 4G LTE. An exciting mobile technology but yet another TLA we have to try to wrap our heads around. We’ll delve briefly into LTE in a moment.

Ting is an MVNO reseller of Sprint’s nationwide mobile network. As such, we’re able to offer 4G service wherever Sprint’s 4G network reaches. Basically, that means major city centers around the US. You can see if your city is covered on the Ting coverage map. All speeds that follow use Sprint’s published baselines.

What is 4G?

4G is a newer mobile standard. It offers average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps and peak speeds of 10 Mbps. That means speeds of between about 0.38 MB/s on the low end and up to 1.25 MB/s on the high. In real-world terms, a single 4MB song download should take between three seconds on the high end and about 11 seconds on the low. Extrapolating that, you could grab a 12-song album in around about 2 min 15 sec at the low end or under 40 seconds at the high end.

Not all Ting phones can take advantage of the 4G network. At present, Ting has four 4G phones and two 4G data devices. They are:

What is 3G?

3G is a current mobile standard. It offers much improved data speeds than previous generations (2G and 1G). As it’s been in commercial applications for about a decade, it’s also available just about everywhere in North America.

3G offers average download speeds of between 600 Kbps and 1.4 Mbps and a peak download speed of up to 3.1 Mbps.

To use the same example as we used previously, that means our 4MB song downloads in between and 10 seconds at the high end and about 55 seconds on the low.

Every and data device and smartphone in Ting’s device catalog, including the aforementioned 4G devices, can access the 3G network. Ting feature phones work on the 2G CDMA (CDMA2000 1xRTT) network.

LTE / 4G LTE

The next major leap forward for mobile connections is LTE. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. While it’s a viable network technology today and offers some pretty impressive near broadband speeds in best case scenarios, it is first and foremost, as the LTE intialism suggests, a plan to ensure that mobile networks can continue to meet our growing mobile demands.

Aside from offering hitherto unseen speeds on wireless networks, LTE can also cram up to 10 times as many users onto a cell and uses its band of the frequency spectrum four times as efficiently as compared with CDMA technology. As existing towers and access points are upgraded to the LTE network, that means a mobile infrastructure that should meet our needs for the next decade. After which… well, who knows what’s next.

Ting doesn’t currently offer any LTE devices, but we’ll definitely keep you posted.

Hello world!

If you are reading this post, we have successfully launched Ting to the general public, hurray!

I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has worked on Ting to date. Over a year of hard work has gone into developing and refining our service offerings, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us get to this point. So, thank you!

Now what!?

Well, we welcome you to poke around and check us out (make sure you try our usage calculator) and let us know what you think. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Welcome to Ting!

I have to buy a device?

This has become the one obvious hurdle people need to clear before falling madly in love with Ting, so I want to address it as clearly and thoroughly as I possibly can.

Yes. You have to buy Ting-issued devices on our site before you can enjoy our monthly service plans.

Now, there tend to be two distinct responses to this.

I already have a device. Can’t I bring it over?

We wish you could. Believe me. We have made a very important business decision to view ourselves as a utility. We sell minutes, megabytes and texts. We see devices as vehicles that allow you to use our service. We do not make money on them. In fact, we are investing a bit to make them more affordable to you.

We actually would also love for people to be able take devices they bought at Ting elsewhere if they are not happy. Yes, we would lose money on a lot of these customers. But it would make our “no contract” claim that much more powerful and, we believe, ultimately engender a lot of loyalty. (“If you love someone, set them free!”)

Unfortunately, there are barriers that have been erected to prevent people from bringing devices from one provider to another, even providers on the same network. We will lobby, haggle, hack and do anything we can to try to change this. We expect you will do the same. But for now, we do not have a solution.

But I never buy a device! Why don’t you give me the device and I will make a commitment to the service?

And this is exactly what we mean by bringing clarity and control to mobile service!

When you get a subsidized or heavily subsidized device from one of the major providers and sign a long-term contract, you are absolutely paying for that device. The price, plus a significant premium, is buried in your monthly service. You are simply getting financing…at terrible rates. The only difference is that it is not being presented to you that way and you really have no idea exactly what sort of premium you are agreeing to. Please do not believe that any business (particularly one that has to offset huge marketing and network operating expenses) would ever give you a device for free.

At Ting, we want to deal with this in a much more straightforward manner. Look at the price of the device. Look at how much you will save each month on your service. Figure out for yourself if you like the whole deal. We are pretty sure your total spend after one or two years (typical contract lengths) will be much lower than what you would spend on the same device plus service elsewhere.

We know cash flow can be an issue. Paying as much as $545 upfront (for a sweet world phone, for example) can be tough, even to save $50+ a month going forward. But we don’t want to get into the business of financing, either covertly or transparently. It’s not what we do. And we urge you to consider smarter ways to finance your purchase (including your credit card, which is hardly a low cost lender) than financing it with a phone company.

We are challenging conventions here. And we are asking people to behave rationally, always a risky business move. But, again, we believe strongly that clarity and control will ultimately lead to better decision making, better value and a better overall experience.

EDIT: We’re offering regular device updates here on the Ting blog. Previously, we didn’t want to talk about our device lineup efforts before they bore fruit for fear of disappointing you. We’ve since realized that wasn’t very Ting of us. Please take these device update posts for what they are: an update on our efforts to get the latest and greatest devices. Not a set in stone device roadmap. With that said, please do take a look if you’d like to know what we’re working on on the device front.

Ting Video Start Up Guides:A Video Guided Tour of Ting Phones

Early this morning, the video Start Up Guides for the Motorola Photon 4G and the Samsung Conquer 4G went live on Ting. With that, the latest phones to join the Ting roll got their time to shine and we hit a milestone; every feature phone and smartphone Ting currently offers now has an associated video Start Up Guide.

The purpose of these five-part video Start Up Guides (aside from keeping yours truly gainfully employed, of course) is twofold.

First, they show prospective owners exactly what they can expect if they decide to buy; they go much more in-depth than an image slide show, sell sheet or marketing bullet points can. They afford the chance to take a close look at the phone, to see its capabilities and its limitations in order to make an informed buying decision.

Second, for new owners, these video series offer a guided tour of the phone that tells them everything they need to know to get going. Starting with the unboxing, charging and first power-up plus setting up accounts through things like copy and paste, using apps and widgets, using the camera, advanced browser tips, power saving tips and much more, each series is about 15 minutes, broken up into five videos.

Find the video series for each Ting phone on its respective page under “Using Your Device” at help.ting.com

Android Smartphones:

 

Feature Phones:

Ting 1.06

The following changes to ting.com went live Tuesday January 10th, 2012:

  • Added Motorola Photon and Samsung Conquer to Devices
  • Moved to discount pricing on Sanyo Zio to $105
  • Reworked Device Details copy
  • Our Privacy Policy is now available
  • International Calling surcharges can be sorted by price
  • Added a “Why Ting” post about free voicemail and other features
  • Added a “Why Ting” post about small businesses
  • “Your Devices” nicknames now work correctly
  • “Busy Signal Call Forwarding” and “No Answer Call Forwarding” settings stick.
  • Help videos have been moved to YouTube.com/ting
  • Added “Help Bubble” on toll-free number showing numeric version

 

Great for small businesses.

Small businesses are wonderfully simple in their core needs. Save me time and money.

Ting can absolutely do both.

Again, combine…

– great “pay for only what you use” rates,
– even better value with multiple devices on one account

…and Ting will almost certainly help a small business reduce its monthly phone bill. (And again, don’t take our word for it, gather up those individual phone bills that get expensed each month and visit our savings calculator.)

Perhaps more importantly, the service has been developed with an administrator in mind. Everything from the running usage graphic to the online billing detail to the feature set is intended to give that lucky gatekeeper as much visibility and control over individual users as possible.

In one luscious dashboard, you can see how much each user is contributing to the total minutes, text messages and megabytes. With simple checks and unchecks, you can enable and disable “privileges” like voice, text, Internet, international calling and forwarding.