When it comes to choosing a carrier to use with your smartphone, there are two main factors to consider: coverage and cost. Of course the choices will always include the “big four” in the US: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but you probably get a pleasant surprise to know that carrier market has grown bigger beyond those obvious names. Going with Verizon or AT&T gives you great coverage, but the cost is probably too much for some users. The logical relevance grows stronger as Wi-Fi networks are widely available today. T-Mobile is another choice, but getting zero bars at office or home makes it plain useless. Beyond the big four, Ting is one of the preferred choices. In case you’ve never heard of it, this brief review can be good introduction.
Unlike major carriers, Ting is an MNVO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Ting rides on Sprint’s CDMA network but currently the service has expanded to GSM network as well. MNVOs tend to be cheaper because they don’t need maintenance overhead, invest in physical stores, or hire an army of retail employees. Even the advertising campaign is not as intensive as their non-virtual counterparts. As a result, consumers have to pay less for the services as well.
One of the benefits of Ting is there is no obligation to commit to a contract. It is not even a pre-paid service, but a pay-as-you-go. Considering that you don’t have to make a lot of phone calls and use mobile data very rarely because you have Wi-Fi at your disposal, you can reduce monthly bill substantially. You probably even use Wi-Fi to make voice calls now. Similar to any PAYG service, Ting allows you to pay only for what you use. The cost breaks down to the number of devices you use, minutes for calls, text messages you send, and Megabytes for data usage. Here is a table of Ting Mobile rates taken from the operator’s official website:
Let us say you use one phone, you make 300 minutes of phone calls every month, send 100 text messages, and only 1GB of mobile data, your monthly cost is $6 for the phone + $9 for the calls + $3 for the texts + $19 for data = a total of $37. Ting also gives an online dashboard and app for your account to see your current usage, bill, and basically access complete control of your account. It is probably the simplest billing system from all carriers in the US.
Choices for phone, unfortunately, rely on Sprint’s catalogue. The lineup consists of some popular devices indeed such as iPhones, Nexus 5, Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and older or low-tier Android phones. There is only one Windows Phone listed on Ting’s website. However, all devices that run on Sprint network, including Blackberry-branded phones, are compatible with Ting. If you are interested in buying a new phone, Ting also has its own online shop that sells new and refurbished devices compatible with the network.
In case you have an incompatible device, Ting recently introduced swap program which allows you to switch carrier at no cost. What you do is to trade-in an incompatible phone for an equivalent Ting-ready one. It is also possible to trade-in your used device at Glyde; every purchase is integrated into Ting. Once you received the purchased device, it can be activated through simple BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) process at the operator’s website. BYOD service is basically a compatibility checker, so you can enter IMEI or MEID to see if it will work with Ting. You can use the tool to check any device purchased from any store as well.
On your account dashboard, you can access referral program with which Ting gives you $50 in credit for the first friend who joins the network, and you get $25 for every friend after that. Depending on your phone usage, one referral per month potentially covers your entire bill. Some of your friends may think that you’re only looking for the free credit, but Ting has another option to prevent that with charity program. The process is the same but your credit will be donated to charity.
Everything that Ting offers is intended to save you from spending too much for phone usage. The pay-as-you-go basis is efficient, while the swap program is smart to attract more potential consumers. The fact that it has now expanded to GSM service makes the operator more viable option. If there is any reason not to switch to Ting, it is the coverage. There is a coverage map tool available on the website to see if your area is included in the zone of service.
For those who don’t mind paying $80 or more for a month of phone usage, Ting is probably not the best option. It is more suitable for casual users who use their phones for simple calling, texting, and a little bit of Internet access on the go, it is perfect if you like to use wi-fi for your data. In such case, they will not need super-fast phones with a lot of megapixels and premium materials. If a decent Sprint phones does good job for your communication needs, you can spend $30 (or maybe less) a month with Ting.
Bottom line, Ting is off to a good start and its phone selection is getting more comprehensive with the added GSM service as well. Its official website is also good to look at, easy to navigate, and it contains tons of information you need to understand how it works or how much money you can save. Ting already has thousands of loyal fans, and switching carrier is probably a good move for you too.