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Samsung Galaxy SIII giveaway winner:
Bill Butt

When we first added the Samsung Galaxy SIII to the Ting lineup and offered it up for pre-order, we said we’d give away two Galaxy SIIIs across from among the first 200 pre-orders across all color and capacity variations. Well, we did just that; the first name drawn was William Butt, Bill to his friends. Since we’re all friends here, Bill it is.

We asked Bill if he’d be willing to do a quick Q&A with us. He obliged because he’s a nice guy.

Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

I was looking for a really good way to drastically cut my cell phone bill. My son, who follows all things tech, suggested that I look into Ting. I would say that I switched for two reasons: 1) to save money and 2) it made sense. I read the Ting blog from beginning to end (ed: That’s what I like to hear!), ran the numbers, and I saw that Ting is a different kind of phone company. In a two year time period I will cut my cell phone bill to a quarter of what it was even with buying the phone outright.

Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying? How long would it have taken?

The difference between my old provider using their lease to own (ed: Love this. A great way to look at subsidized devices and contracts.) and Ting’s owning the phone outright from day one was only $350. That is two or three months of savings to pay for the phone on an individual case. My apple to apple comparison of my old provider and Ting is something like going from $183/month before taxes to $45/ month using two years of cell phone usage. Stretch that out over two years, and you are talking some serious saving coming my way by changing to Ting.

How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

The Galaxy SIII is great. It’s light years ahead of my old phone that is only 2½ years old. The phone has lots of pros. There are too many to list here without any obvious cons. Folks just have to get one of these phones and unleash it on the Ting network. They will never be sorry. Plus, it is a bonus when the wife likes her new Samsung Galaxy SIII too.

What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

Pay the cable bill, would Ting be thinking about entering the cable TV Market? My cable company does not think like Ting does. Their bills are like my old cell phone provider, bad.

How do you explain Ting to your friends and family?

My change to Ting gives me more services for less money; you cannot beat that.

Thanks for taking the time, Bill. We appreciate it.

First Ting customer hits the LTE network

We’re a little late in posting this given that our first LTE network ping actually happened on September 7. We figured we’d hold off long enough to put our news up against the impending iPhone 5 launch from Apple to see who’ll get the most attention.

We like our odds.

Wayne Elseth was early into the queue and received his Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order in the first small batch of shipments. Working in Baltimore, MD, one of the first cities to come online in the LTE rollout, it wasn’t long before his phone found the faster network.

We got in touch with Wayne to let him know the good news; that as the first ever Ting LTE user, his Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order purchase price was to be fully refunded. Not a bad deal, really!

There are still two more SIII full refunds to be drawn from the first 200 pre-orders upon activation. With 32 GB Galaxy SIIIs approaching our warehouse now and with 16 GBs closely following, we expect to draw two more lucky winners next week.

In the meantime, we can live vicariously through Wayne. We spoke to him about his latest acquisition, about making the switch to Ting, about LTE and about new found fortune:

Ting: Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

Wayne Elseth: I’ve been a captive of the Big Guys for many years suffering through a set of family feature phones that allowed us to communicate but weren’t at all inspiring. I’ve wanted (cannot really say I needed, but the end result is the same) to upgrade to a smart phone for a long time but couldn’t justify the expense of three data plans and the resulting two-year contract.

As part of my complete “cutting the cord” effort I moved my home phone to VOIP and continued the effort by looking for a new cell provider. A few Google searches later I found Ting! The fact that Ting is related to Tucows only made the discovery better. I’ve been a Tucows fan since the very early days when the primary product was file sharing. It’s really great that Tucows is expanding. Also, I really love having a bucket of time/bytes to share between the family phones.

T: Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying? How long would it have taken?

W: Keeping in mind that we used to have only feature phones with the smallest bucket of minutes our total monthly bill was in the $75 range. Assuming the same usage pattern the savings calculates out to about $54 per month less expensive using Ting, so the SIII break-even is a bit less than a year. We keep equipment forever, so the payback is even better than it first appears.

T: How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

W: It’s a great phone and provides excellent coverage. I’m still loading it up with interesting apps. I’m also guessing that my time on the SIII will be going up – it’s got a pretty amazing set of capabilities.

T: What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

W: Well, getting a 4G hotspot for my laptop is looking pretty interesting.

T: Did you notice the speed difference when you hit the LTE network?

W: Yes, the 4G speed difference is amazing. Web pages download in a flash making for a great user experience.

Device update: On filling pre-orders and fulfilling promises

Device Update – Aug 16, 2012

We’re pretty pleased with the way our device lineup is coming together. The Samsung Galaxy SIII pre-order we announced in the last Device Update was a real win for us and, more importantly, for those of you looking for a truly top-end phone for use on Ting.

Coming to Ting

Top-end smartphones

Sometimes called “superphones,” these are the true top-tier smartphones; dual-core processors, a gig or two of RAM, huge, super high-resolution screens and the like are the earmarks.

HTC EVO 4G LTE

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is making its way to Ting. We’ll be offering pre-orders in mid-September with shipments happening in mid-October. We expect to offer the HTC EVO 4G for around $520.

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is a pretty killer device with a 4.7-inch screen 1280×720. It runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) with the new, pared down HTC Sense atop. It sports a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, expandable via microSD card. As the product name suggests, the HTC EVO 4G LTE is also an LTE-ready handset.

Motorola Photon Q

We’ve had some requests for a high-end QWERTY slider to replace the HTC Detail. Only too happy to oblige, we’ll be able to offer the Motorola Photon Q for pre-order next week; we’re expecting to have it available to us as pre-order on August 20, with shipments beginning three weeks hence. This timeframe is optimistic but likely.

The Photon Q is an LTE phone, it has the requisite slide-out QWERTY keyboard and packs a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0 (4.0.4 out of the box, to be exact).

We expect to offer the Photon Q for around $500 but exact pricing is as yet TBD.
[UPDATE: August 21, 2012: Pre-order pricing for the Motorola Q is $520.]

LG Viper

A little lower down the spec chain but not by much, we expect to have the LG Viper on offer in October for a little less than $400. Another LTE smartphone, the LG Viper has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. It runs Gingerbread, Android 2.3 out of the box. Thankfully though, an update to Ice Cream Sandwich is imminent, as confirmed by both Sprint and LG, though we have no specific ETA to share right this second. For more information on how the Ting Android update process works, please check out this article on the blog.

Think of the LG Viper as the LG Optimus Elite on steroids… but with LTE and a faster processor instead of acne and ‘roid rage.

Samsung Galaxy SIII

The Samsung Galaxy SIII is the top of the top-end. Pre-orders have been rolling in fast and furious.

There are a lot of moving parts that have to be taken in to account in fulfilling the SIII pre-orders. We’re on it literally every day, pushing to get these phones out the door as soon as possible.

We expect to begin shipping pre-orders of the Galaxy SIIIs across the four variants (Pebble Blue, Marble White, 16GB, 32GB) by early September and we’re pushing hard to move the shipping window up. As soon as we have a clear timeframe, we’ll certainly share it. Watch this space!

Smartphones

This is the most popular device category on Ting by volume. These smartphones come in at between about $200 and $300, generally feature single-core processors and smaller cameras. They’re not the absolute bleeding edge but they’re capable devices that won’t break the bank.

Kyocera Rise

This inexpensive slider will be offered for about $200 and will be hitting the Ting devices page soon. Sprint launches the Rise on August 19 and we’ll be able to offer it a couple of weeks later, in early September.

The Rise has a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and a 3.5-inch screen. What’s interesting though is that we’re now starting to see Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, move from exclusively the domain of the “superphones” and in to the more attainable smartphone space. The Rise is the first smartphone we’ll be able to offer at or around the $200 mark that runs ICS out of the box.

Feature phones

Feature phones aren’t met with the same fanfare as smartphones, which is understandable. These staid handsets don’t do much with data, have smaller screens and less advanced software running the show. That said, they’re a necessary part of any device line-up for the people that don’t need or want a smartphone.

Codename: Hyperopia

Within a couple of months we’ll be adding a new feature phone to the Ting lineup. We’re codenaming this feature phone Hyperopia because we can’t see quite far enough out to get the actual product name. The codename is also ironic as it will feature large keys and options for large on-screen text, perfect for shortsighted people. Really though, it’s perfect for anyone looking for a simple, solid phone without much in the way of bells and whistles. Hyperopia will hit in the near future and by the next device update, we hope to have a device name and price point to share. Until we confirm the name of this impending Ting feature phone, please feel free to speculate wildly in the comments below.

Going from Ting

The device sale on the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot and the Sierra 250u continues, and we’re also adding the black Samsung Galaxy SII into the mix at $50 off ($435 down from $485). As with the white SIIs, once we clear through the remaining stock of black Galaxy SIIs, these devices are gone for good which leaves little room for hemming and / or hawing. If you want one, you’d better get moving!

Nothing to report on the iPhone front as yet. We continue to work every available angle. We expect to make small steps forward (and possibly a couple back-steps along the way) before we finally break into that walled garden. We’re happy with the progress we’ve made thus far, even though it’s baby steps. We’ll definitely keep you posted as news warrants.

In other news

We continue to work with Sprint on LTE. The back-end work has been accomplished on our side so as soon as the virtual switch flips, we’ll be able to offer LTE to Ting customers (at no extra charge, it must be pointed out). We’re still looking at an early September timeframe… and again, our tenacious team is all over it.

A lot of the feedback we’ve received from Ting users, both current and would-be, is that we need to offer a wider variety of devices and that ideally, we should support bring your own device (BYOD). We’ve been working hard on both fronts and our efforts are starting to pay off. We hope to have news to share on the BYOD front soon. We only mention it now so you don’t think we’ve fallen asleep at the switch. Let us assure you: We as a team drink far too much coffee for that to even be a possibility.

Broken Galaxy Nexus dreams

In other, less fortuitous news, it doesn’t look likely that our efforts to get the Galaxy Nexus will come to fruition. That’s a whole post in and of itself but suffice it to say that Google needs to make its pure Google phones MVNO friendly. We’re adopting the thought that it’s their loss… but isn’t that what all spurned lovers say? Our sincere apologies to the unmodified Android devotees. We’ll let you know if that changes but as it stands, we have to say: Ting will not offer the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

We’re hoping we can turn the tides for the next pure Google phone. Again, watch this space. We’re thinking a letter-writing campaign to Google HQ. Seriously. Who’s in?

Win Won: a Nexus 7 and Ting Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to @charlesschr. Your Nexus 7 and Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot are on their way out to you now.

Thanks to everyone that entered. We’re already cooking up our next giveaway idea so watch this space and this space too!

The slick Nexus 7 and the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot are a match made in high-tech heaven. As we hope we’ve adequately pointed out in our Ting loves tablets post.

To drive the point, we’re giving away a Nexus 7 tablet and a Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot.

Tweet to win a Nexus 7 and Express Mobile Hotspot

If you’re not already a Ting customer, first ask yourself why. Get really soul-searching about it. Next, grab a couple of recent bills from your current mobile service provider and run the numbers on the Ting Calculator. Share your potential savings on Twitter by clicking the handy Tweet button on the Ting Calculator page and you’re in the running.

Here’s a sample tweet:

I would save $XX.XX/mo. with Ting mobile. Calculate your savings to win a Nexus 7 tablet + hotspot. http://ow.ly/cXVk3 #Ting

or click for a pre-populated Tweet.

If you’re already a Ting customer, please accept our heartfelt gratitude and, instead of sharing what you could save, share what you are saving with Ting versus your previous mobile carrier.

Here’s a sample tweet:

I’m saving $XX.XX/mo. with Ting mobile. Calculate your savings to win a Nexus 7 tablet + hotspot. http://ow.ly/cXVk3 #Ting

or click for a pre-populated Tweet.

So calculate your savings and share for a chance to win.

We should point out: Promotion ends on Aug. 17. US only. No purchase necessary. Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot can only be used on Ting. You must have a valid post-paid credit card if you wish to become a Ting customer.

Ting <3 tablets, tablets <3 Ting

Whether you opted for the Wi-Fi only iPad or jumped on the Nexus 7 train where Wi-Fi is the only option, a mobile hotspot makes a perfect match for your tablet. Perhaps predictably, we’d argue that tablet-matching mobile hotspot should come from Ting.

While tablets are included in the major carrier’s new shared data plans, the fees for adding a device are steep. Contrast that with Ting where there’s a flat $6/mo. fee to keep a device alive on the network and where all your devices use the same pool of minutes, messages and megabytes of data. You’ll have a mobile data connection when you need it, but you’re not paying much to keep that mobile data option alive when you don’t.

Another option is to just tether your tablet to your Ting Android smartphone running in mobile hotspot mode. Tethering is included with Ting service at no additional charge; you only pay for the megabytes of data you actually use.

Granted, using a mobile hotspot isn’t quite as convenient as having a cellular radio built right in to your tablet. However, it offers much more flexibility. With a hotspot, you can offer up your mobile data connection to any Wi-Fi enabled devices you want; laptops, tablets, netbooks, whatever.

Consider the fact that a mobile-connecting iPad comes at a $100 price premium; you can purchase the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot for a few bucks more and get much greater flexibility as part the deal.

Perfect data device for the Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 running Jelly Bean, Android 4.1, is the new tablet darling. With good reason. It’s small, light, sharp and smooth as silk. More though, Jelly Bean offers an interesting but less publicized new feature: the ability to denote a Wi-Fi access point as a mobile access point. In short, tell your Nexus 7 that the Wi-Fi signal coming from your Express Mobile Hotspot or Android phone in Portable Hotspot mode uses the mobile data network and the Nexus 7 will scale back its data demands; you’ll use less mobile data and with Ting, that also means you’ll pay less.

Take a look at the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot: the ultimate tablet companion.

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