My wife and I recently switched off of our cell phone plans to try something new – a prepaid joint cell phone plan.
Ting is a relatively new effort from parent company Tucows – a company which you’ve probably heard of, if you’ve been around the Internet for a little while.
Ting was created as a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) on the Sprint network. Network owners offer wholesale rates for network operations to resellers, who can then administer plans and manage accounts. Ting (currently, as of Feb 2013) supports phones using Sprint LTE, WiMax and 3G antennas, depending on the coverage Sprint offers in a given area.
I’m a Ting fan – and I hope this review and experience turns you onto their service. The links to Ting in this article will give me a referral bonus if you end up signing up, and will also give you a $25 credit. If you don’t like that? Just type ting.com.
My wife and I are an interesting case study in this regard – she was coming from Verizon and I was coming from Sprint. We took hugely different paths to get phones to use.
My wife bought a refurbished LG Marquee from Ting, for $87 plus tax and shipping. It might as well be new – and compared to her previous phone (a Droid Eris, which she switched to after her newer phone broke) it’s revolutionary – what with the Eris’s propensity to drop calls and frustrating slowness (but, to be fair, it’s an older phone). The Marquee came, she activated it with Ting (a quick step), and ported her number. 18 hours later? Off to the races – she was with Ting.
My experience was a little more technical, since I was already on Sprint with my Evo 4G – once the flagship 4G Sprint model, but now showing its age a bit. It’s good enough for me – so I decided to bring it over when my contract expired. Luckily, Ting recently opened up their Bring Your Own Device program from Sprint – and Evo 4Gs were one of the models.
Now, my experience is a but loopy since I was bringing an active device and porting my number, but I’ll share it here in case it helps you switch over:
Ting warns people that if they try to bring over an active device from Sprint and want to port a number, you need to find a babysitter for your number in the meantime. They suggest porting first to something like Google Voice, activating the phone with Ting, then porting the number a second time. However, if you have an old Sprint phone, you can use this method:
- Contact Sprint to switch service to your old phone. I had a Samsung Instinct (a 3G phone, the Evo is 4G/WiMax), so I wasn’t able to use the automated method – but through Sprint Online Chat, I was able to do it in about 10 minutes.
- Once you have verified your old phone works (make and receive a phone call and a text message, to verify), you can start the Ting transfer process.
- First, enter the device information on your deactivated Sprint phone, then follow the instructions. Activating and porting took less than 30 hours, and I was able to use the Instinct in the meantime on Sprint’s network
You can check out Ting’s full list of devices… or buy a used Sprint phone on their compatibility list from something like eBay or Craigslist.
Ting has a ton of plan options and divides service into minutes of talk, text messages, and megabytes of data. For Mrs. DQYDJ and I, our basic cost is $6 / month per device. A basic plan with 1000 minutes of talk, 1000 text messages, and 500 megabytes of data would be $18 + $5 + $13 + $6, or $42 for one phone. If you go over into the next tier or don’t make it into the tier you expected? Ting will credit your account or charge you the next month – a convenient and refreshing feature!
That’s right – no overage penalties. Back in the May to June period, I went over my Sprint tier (1,500 minutes) by 1,025 minutes – and Sprint charged me 40 cents a minute for my crime. Now, this was work related, but going through the hassle of getting reimbursed for the overage was enough to make me look forward to my contract expiring in November. For the record, Ting’s top tier of minutes is 3,000 ($52 a month for the minutes, my total Sprint bill was over $500), but even if you go over that tier they charge only 2 cents per minute.
With our joint plan, we have been paying $60 / month for 2 Android devices. Unbelievable, if you’re a data user. Before that I was paying $66 /month for the Evo (overages aside) and my wife was paying $50 /month for her Eris.
Switching to Ting is pretty easy – although phone number portability has been streamlined quite a bit since the FCC’s guidelines came into effect. Mrs. DQYDJ’s number was ported from Verizon within 18 hours. My number and activation took a little longer, which was expected since I was bringing over a WiMax device. My number took around 28 hours to port.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, New England, the Dallas Airport and Los Angeles (the only areas we’ve been since switching over) we can give a strong thumbs up on Ting coverage. Here’s a link to their service map, so you can try your address and commute/workplace.
As expected? Yes, absolutely – I’ve had Sprint for well over 10 years, so my wife had the confidence to switch over before I did. As an Interior Designer, her job takes her all over the Bay Area – generally San Francisco and the Peninsula down through the South Bay. No complaints from her on a service she needs for her career.
We also saw good service on the East Coast, from Boston through Northern Rhode Island, including some borderline rural places we visited in central Massachusetts. The service was better even than when I used to live and work on the East Coast – a nod to Sprint’s improved network.
Ting – a Conclusion
Isn’t it obvious? I love it. Coming from Sprint, I’m not giving up the service I was already receiving, and am still able to get 4G speeds when I want them. Oh, and we’d be saving $6 a month even if we were just talking about my phone – so it’s almost like getting my wife’s service for free.
An unqualified four thumbs up from us on Ting. If you’re in the market, definitely check out what they offer.
A Note on Prepaid and Joint Plans
A few years back, it became evident that prepaid cell phone plans were starting to outpace ‘postpaid’ plans from the major cell phone operators, in both the European Union and the United States (and probably in other jurisdictions). In a prepaid plan, instead of picking options from a menu of plans and locking in a cellular contract for 2 years (with, possibly, a phone discount), in a prepaid plan you generally buy a phone and pay upfront for expected usage per month. Sometimes, you pay a dollar amount which is diminished on a per-usage basis.
Joint plans, for whatever reason, are still a relative rarity in the United States for prepaid plans. Even though prepaid plans generally seem compatible with multiple users, there just isn’t much traction on that front. It’s one of the reasons we were so attracted to the Ting plan when we first saw it.