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2013: A Ting retrospective

We’re not ones for regaling people with tales of our past wins. Nor will we rest on our laurels. Still, there are a few key accomplishments from the year that was we’d like to call out.

Check out the timeline on the Ting about page for a month-by-month blow of what we’ve done since we officially launched in February of 2012. Read on for some of the biggest, most impactful and proudest of our accomplishments of 2013.

It behooves us to point out: None of what follows would have been possible without the support, and occasional urging, of our awesome customers. So all credit to you and a very sincere thanks.

New phones

Not owning network infrastructure used to mean not having a line on the best phones. Now though, Ting gets access to the latest and greatest devices at or at very nearly the same time as the major carrier incumbents.

Much behind the scenes wrangling has made it so and while there’s no one MVNO industry alliance (perhaps we’ll put that on the list for the year ahead), we feel confident and justified in taking our fair share of credit for turning this tide. The waves we’ve made have started to trickle out to other MVNOs too and can be seen in their improved phone lineups.

Nexus-5In 2013, we were the first MVNO to officially offer support for the Nexus 5. That was no mean feat. As we said in our Nexus 5 manifesto: With the Nexus 5, Google is messing with the mobile status quo. While we’re fans of that kind of thing, as we’ve said elsewhere, it does complicate things for the “business as usual” systems we interface with. It was worth the trouble and now, Nexus 5 owners have the option to choose Ting and mobile that makes sense for their shiny new device.

In 2013, we were the first MVNO to offer Windows Phone 8 devices.

The first to offer the Galaxy S4. Note 3. HTC One. Moto X. And so on and so forth.

We were the first to officially launch Tri-Band LTE access and devices to take advantage of this new, faster and more versatile LTE standard.

While we can’t currently offer the devices up for sale, we were the first CDMA carrier to offer bring your own device (BYOD) capability for a certain iConic smartphone, one generation old. We’ll continue to work to offer the latest and greatest versions of these desirable devices.

2014 will be our year.

Complete redesign

We believe that if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind. So it is that we never consider Ting to be “finished.” We’re continuously working on the site, on your account dashboard and its capability, on our service, pricing, device lineup, BYOD offerings and so on.

Ting underwent what other companies would probably consider a “full redesign” in 2013. We worked a page at a time, adding functionality, cleaning up navigation and bringing in a more refined visual style.

Over 2013, we completely rethought our homepage. Now, it helps Ting customers get where they need to go (specifically, to their Ting dashboard… also completely redesigned in 2013). For people who aren’t familiar with Ting and what we’re doing, the new home page does a much better job of distilling Ting down to its core tenets and presenting them clearly and concisely.

Ditching plans, going post-paid

When we first launched, it was on a pre-paid model. Customers would pick the service levels they thought they’d hit for the month. If they went over their selected amounts for minutes, messages or megabytes of data, we’d bill the difference (without any overage penalties, of course) the subsequent month. If they used less than they thought they would, we’d drop them down to the bucket they landed in and automatically issue a credit for the difference.

As you can see, it can become a little difficult to explain… which is precisely why we changed it.

In 2013 we ditched plans and prepayment entirely. Now, everyone starts off the cycle at 0 minutes, messages and megabytes and actual usage determines the bill.

Much simpler and therefore, better for all involved..

ETFpic

Paying out ETFs

Early in the year, we put aside a $100,000 fund dedicated to paying off the early termination fees (ETFs) of the contract-afflicted to help them make the move to Ting. It seems we tapped a wellspring of pent up demand: Our $100,000 fund lasted all of seven minutes.

Later, we made ETF assistance something we just do as opposed to a one-off promotion. In September, we launched our ETF relief effort. We’ll give back 25% of a switcher’s ETF up to $75 as Ting credit if they’re leaving a contract to make the move.

With some among the major carriers announcing at CES 2014 that they’re taking a similar approach (though naturally more fraught with terms, conditions and legalese, than our offering) it’s fun to see our strategies validated by the big three.

Shipping portfolio

Ting-portfolioIn October, we launched our new, reusable Ting shipping portfolio. Everyone that orders a device from Ting now receives it in one of our awesome reusable portfolios.

Our goal was to create something that, once it had served its primary purpose of getting a Ting device to your door safe and sound, could be re-used. It makes a great protective carrier for a tablet or netbook.

Internally, we call the portfolio version 1.0 and we intend to improve upon it with a new version later this year.

The year ahead

We have many goals for 2014. For obvious reasons, we can’t say too much at this early stage but here are a few things we’re working on.

Better communication around coverage: Our network provider has been busy making vast improvements to its vast network infrastructure. Ting customers have access to LTE in more than 300 markets, including several Tri-Band LTE offerings, as it is. In 2014, these improvements don’t just continue, they go into an even higher gear.

For our part, we resolve to do a better job of communicating with customers both current and to-be about these improvements as they hit.

VoIP: Another big goal for 2014 is to offer voice over IP (VoIP) calling. In other words, routing calls through the Internet where possible and seamlessly handing off between cellular and local networks. Adding VoIP means the potential for even more saving with Ting. As you might imagine, it’s not a simple matter… but we’ve got some smart people on the problem.

Shipping portfolio 2.0: As we mentioned, we’re looking to make the Ting shipping portfolio even better in 2014. It’s still early days and we’re always interested to hear how you think the portfolio could be improved. We’ve even got a simple form you can use to share your feedback.

Be sure to keep up to date on the Ting Facebook page, on our Twitter feed and / or grab the Ting blog RSS feed with your favorite feed reader.

Here’s looking forward to even more awesome in 2014!

Tri-Band LTE: Ting goes for three

Tri-Band LTE
An older cell tower riding off into the sunset. Thanks iStock!

EDIT: Updated to explicitly state that Ting Tri-Band LTE doesn’t come at an extra cost and to correct erroneous information about wave frequencies as they relate to capacity and travel.

We’ve talked at length previously about the fact that Ting customers get the self same cell service and access to network improvements at or at very nearly the same time as our network provider’s own retail customers.

Recently, another 70 LTE sites came online bringing the total to 300 sites.

The latest and most potentially impactful in a steady stream of major network improvements is Tri-Band LTE.

So what is Tri-Band LTE?

Tri-Band means LTE service offered on three distinct frequencies or “bands.” Each of the three bands (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz) has its own unique benefits. By offering three bands together, any shortcomings of a single band are shored up by the strengths of the others. In other words, with three bands together, you get more reliable coverage, greater capacity and faster speeds in more places.

Lower frequency bands are able to cover a wide area and can penetrate building materials readily. However, they’re lacking when it comes to capacity.

Higher frequency bands offer great capacity but can’t travel as far or through obstructions like lower frequency bands can.

With the mid-range band in the mix, you get Tri-Band LTE that offers the broad coverage and material penetration of the lower band with the increased capacity of the high frequency band. Switching between bands is seamless and whichever frequency is strongest is the one your Tri-Band device will use.

Tri-Band rollout

Tri-Band LTE is available at no extra charge to Ting customers with a compatible device (more on those in a sec) in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami. As our network provider brings more Tri-Band capable towers online across the country, Ting customers will get access at the same time as said provider’s retail customers.

Tri-Band devices

Effective as soon as we hit the publish button on this blog post, we’ll also be putting our first Tri-Band capable devices online on the Ting devices page.

Tri-Band smartphones

The Nexus 5, which can be purchased direct from Google, is a Tri-Band capable device. If you get a Nexus 5 and a Ting SIM card, and if you’re in one of the aforementioned five Tri-Band locations, you’re set.

We’re also adding several new Tri-Band devices to the Ting lineup:

  • Samsung Galaxy Mega (black and white)
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (black and white)
  • LG G2 coming soon in both black and white.

Tri-Band data devices

Can we buy you a drink?

coffeecup

Starting today and until this time next week, we’re offering each of the 200 million Verizon and AT&T customers in the US a cup of coffee on us. Specifically, we’re offering a $5 Starbucks gift card to any and everyone that calculates their savings using the automated Ting savings calculator.

A $5 Starbucks gift card, you say? That’s enough for even the fanciest of coffee-based beverages: The elusive mochachaicocoaccino.

Could we end up buying a lot of coffees? Sure! That’s the goal. There’s something very compelling about a free cup of good coffee with no strings attached. Even if all 200 million AT&T and Verizon subscribers decided to take us up on this offer, we’d roll our loose change and check the couch cushions to come up with the $1 billion. Once those customers saw how much they could save, it’d be worth it.

How it works:

  1. Visit the Ting coffee promotion page.
  2. Enter your login details for your online account with AT&T or Verizon.
  3. The Ting calculator will reach out to your AT&T or Verizon account to automatically pull in the data from your last few mobile bills*.
  4. We’ll calculate your potential savings with Ting and present you with the results.
  5. On the calculation page, you’ll receive your $5 Starbucks gift card. We’ll also email you the details.

*Note: We do not see or store your AT&T or Verizon login or password nor do we store your personal data. We’re only interested in the actual usage data from your last few bills and what you ultimately paid as it pertains to your savings calculation.

Could AT&T and / or Verizon see what’s happening, get worried and make changes that would make it so their customers couldn’t see their savings with the Ting auto calculator? They could indeed. Do we have a contingency plan for if that happens? You know we do.

For Ting customers only

If you’ve already switched to Ting and experienced mobile that make sense, first: Thank you. Next, let us tell you that there’s something extra special in store just for Ting customers: Take a friend out for a coffee to propagandize tell them about the benefits of Ting, send us your receipt and your coffees (or teas) are on us too. Specifically, we’ll drop up to $10 in Ting credit into your account to cover the tab.

Optionally, give us your friend’s email and we’ll send them a friendly reminder to use your referral code if they’re thinking of making the move. As a Ting customer, you are, as always, eligible to receive $50 in credit for your first ever referral and $25 for each subsequent referral too.

Sounds like a plan? Have a coffee on us!

It’s time to bring your Nexus 5 to Ting!

Now you can bring your Nexus 5 to Ting

bring your Nexus 5 to TingWow, what a week! Last Thursday, a handful of savvy denizens from around the country began activating the very first Nexus 5 devices on Ting. We have heard from those early adopters loud and clear: they really, really love their Nexus 5 — and they’re stoked to have their dapper Nexus 5 smartphones up and running here on Ting.

Which is why we are really excited to say: it’s time to bring your Nexus 5 to Ting! (In our humble opinion, of course.)

How to bring your Nexus 5 to Ting

So, here’s the game plan to get a snazzy new Nexus 5 on Ting…

  1. Go order your Nexus 5!
    • Because of sheer demand, there is a bit of a wait right now over at Google Play, so go lock in your shipping date. We’re doing everything we can to get SIM cards out the door as quickly as possible, which brings me to…
  2. If you have not already, go get on our SIM card priority list right now!
    • We have begun shipping initial batches of SIM cards out. We are emailing small groups of folks at a time to find out if they are ready for a SIM card and, if so, where they would like their SIM card shipped. Please be patient with us, as these SIM cards are still in very short supply.
    • If you are in a mad dash to get your Nexus 5 up and running on Ting, you can also check out the early adopter thread for random ideas on where else you might be able to snag the necessary SIM card.
  3. Once you have your Nexus 5 and a SIM card, head over to this rapidly evolving support article for the play-by-play.
    • And, as part of our newfangled Nexus 5 open beta, our staggeringly awesome support folks will be able to provide guidance starting later next week, should you run into roadblocks large or small.
    • In the meantime, if you run into any issues, our awesome community has done a great job figuring out the occasional Nexus 5 quirks right here.

We have said it before, but it bears repeating: the excitement we’ve seen around the Nexus 5 from you Tingfolk (and soon-to-be Tingfolk) has just blown us away. So get yourself signed up for a Ting SIM card and then head over to our forums to follow the progress!

What’s New at Ting: Activation page improvements, self-serve port requests and an ESN swapping update!

At Ting, we’re always looking into adding useful features for you, as well as improving the current services we offer. In this installment of “What’s New at Ting” we give you the run-down on some awesome updates that will better your overall Ting experience. The major changes this week comprises upgrades to your account capabilities, letting you manually adjust more than ever before!

ESN Activation

 

Inactive device list on activation page

When you purchase a device from us, you will no longer need to enter the ESN or ICCID during the activation process (at ting.com/go/devices). Your device will be listed under “Select your ESN”, along with any other inactive devices on your account.
 

Self-serve port requests

By popular demand, you can now manually modify your own port requests! Before, if your number port failed in the transfer process, you have to call us and an agent would help you resolve the issue. While this previous process wasn’t unpleasant, we’re always interested in giving you more control over your Ting account. Now, if the process fails, you’ll be given as much info as possible on why your number port wasn’t accepted, and you can edit this port request yourself! This was one of our biggest call drivers, so we’re excited to finally give you the tools to update this manually.

 

Your Devices Page

ESN swapping has been added to the control panel

We’ve made it easier for you to switch an active number to a new or existing device! While this option already existed, it wasn’t as straightforward to find as we’d like. As a result, we’ve moved the ESN swap tool to the Devices Settings page on the Ting Control Panel. Now, when you click on your phone in the Device Settings page, you’ll have the option to “Move this number to another device” under Actions (see highlighted box in the image at right).

Ting’s Nexus 5 manifesto redux:
A Very Ting Roadtrip

(For the tl;dr action plan, skip to the last two paragraphs!)

Nexus-5Over the past few days, something changed. Guys and gals in big brown trucks started delivering snazzy new Nexus 5 smartphones to anxiously awaiting folks across America. For the first time, anyone with just this one awesome device could choose between at least three of the four major mobile networks in the United States.

We knew the Nexus 5 was a smartphone we wanted to have and support for the Ting community. We were, frankly, more than a bit surprised by just how many folks bought a Nexus 5 from Google Play and then showed up at our (virtual) door. We always try to be as open as we possibly can be about new devices and our plans (just take a look at our Nexus 5 manifesto from yesterday). So in that spirit, the redux: An update on our progress with the Nexus 5.

The fact Ting runs on the CDMA network has meant that a device you buy for, say, T-Mobile cannot be used with Ting or vice versa. But, pretty darned suddenly, you can head over to the Google Play store and buy a Nexus 5 and then take it to just about any carrier.

There is one roadblock. For a little while now, almost all new CDMA devices have supported LTE. LTE devices require a SIM card. Without exception, every LTE device we sell has a SIM card included (and some are even embedded). We have never before needed to provide a SIM card by itself. For our MVNO brethren and sistren that operate on GSM-based networks, providing a SIM card is routine. For us, it’s a new logistical question.

Set of color SIM cardsWhich leads me to my last-minute trip down to Buffalo, New York yesterday. We have quite a few older SIM cards here at Ting HQ for testing, but the Nexus 5 requires a fancy new SIM card (model SIMGLW206R if you’re keeping track). Inspired by our Nexus 5 manifesto, I found the nearest Sprint Store with SIM cards on hand, jumped in my sweet, sweet ride and made a run for the border.

And then I waited. You see, Ting HQ is here in Toronto. I grew up in West Virginia, where a traffic jam is a few coal trucks getting in the way on a long and winding mountain road. Between Toronto and Buffalo, however, there is the Queen Elizabeth Majestic Parking Lot Way. Her Majesty and I need to have a little chat because clearly she needs some new traffic management planning experts.

But, I digress. I left the office at 3:30pm and arrived at a buzzing Sprint Store in Buffalo right around 7:30pm, just a half-hour before they were scheduled to close. They gave me their last five SIM cards and I headed over to the Barnes & Noble next door to jump on their Wi-Fi network. Connecting to Ting HQ via VPN, we were able to get our first few Nexus 5 devices active on Ting.

This isn’t an announcement that the Nexus 5 can now come to Ting. We’re still testing and working on instructions for getting everything up and running. That said, things are looking very promising.

We are crazy excited about the Nexus 5. The demand is awesome, but the paradigm shift it portends for the old wireless industry models is especially exciting. Want to give T-Mobile a try? Want to give Ting a try? Want to head over to Sprint for unlimited data, instead? The more freedom you have, the happier we are here at Ting. Even though I didn’t get back home until well after midnight last night, I’d be saying the same thing — perhaps even louder — after a good night’s sleep!

Where we are right now

If you want to bring a Nexus 5 purchased from Google Play over to Ting, you have a couple of options.

  1. Take the blue pill and wait for a bit while we smooth the way for you to bring a Nexus 5 to Ting.
    We are working on getting a sufficient quantity of SIM cards to start shipping them out to new and existing Ting customers that want to activate their Nexus 5 purchased from the Google Play store. If you want to be notified once we have these ready, give us your details here and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can. Please keep in mind that bringing your own Nexus 5 will only be possible for Nexus 5 devices purchased directly from the Google Play store.
  2. Take the red pill and test with us.
    If you simply cannot wait and are willing to blaze a trail with us here, get your hands on a Sprint* SIM card and head over to this thread in our forums for the nitty gritty details. Before you swallow that pill though, please be fully aware that we’re still working on getting some things working and we can’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly smoothly: There may still be challenges ahead that we can’t yet foresee.

Whether you’re ready now or you want to wait it out, here’s to the Nexus 5 helping to make mobile make even more sense!