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Ting vs. Sprint: data roaming

Mark Bausch
posted this on September 2, 2012, 09:38

(Some of this is a repost from another thread.)

We are a more-than-ten-years Sprint family...and as near as I can tell, Ting will serve our needs.

Here is what I think I know, as far as what the important service-related differences between Sprint and Ting boil down to: DATA ROAMING.

If I believe what I'm reading here, Ting voice and text and data use the Sprint network (more on that in a minute) and while Ting voice and text roam the same as if you're a Sprint customer (i.e. roaming is free)...Ting does not allow data roaming of any kind.

In other words, as far as data are concerned...you'd better be near a Sprint tower...because, as I wrote above, as a Ting customer,  no data roaming is allowed. Is this correct?

But is this no-data-roaming a deal-breaker?

We just returned from a week in central FL (Disney) and east central FL (Cocoa Beach).

My oh my was the Sprint (data) service bad--and our three devices, which work very well at home--struggled to do anything as far as data was concerned. Roaming? I'm not sure what was going on except that the data was crap.

...all of which gets me thinking--there is a spot about a half-hour north of our home where the Sprint coverage hands us off to what I believe are Verizon towers. While voice works fine when roaming, the data roaming, through the Verizon tower, just doesn't work very well.

So how well does data-roaming work for current Sprint customers? Is our experience the norm? Because if it is, then what do we lose by going to Ting?

Make sense? We have had similar experiences recently in the Chicago area (which, again, if I believe what I read...is due to Sprint's conversion to LTE)...simply awful data...and useless data via roaming.

So I want to be sure--exactly how does Ting handle data roaming?

 

Comments

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Ken Schafer
Ting

Hi Mark,

You've got it right.

Within the US our default network is Sprint. When Sprint isn't available we'll fallback (roam) to other networks for Voice and Text. We do not fallback to other networks for data. It is cost prohibitive to do so at the rates we charge and we're not interested in adding surcharges for data roaming within the country.

For most people this won't be an issue but if you generally spend time in an area that you know does not have Sprint data coverage and you don't have wifi options available, then Ting might not be right for you.

September 2, 2012, 14:12
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

It might be worth letting us pay the higher metered rate for data roaming if we so choose. Can it be enabled/disabled on a per-device basis?

September 3, 2012, 19:13
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Samuel A
Ting Army
I wouldn't mind the ability to enable a second data category for roaming, billed by 10MB increments.
September 5, 2012, 17:05
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

Yeah. I could accept that data roaming is ridiculously expensive, but it would be nice to have the option. I mean we have the option to pay a ridiculous amount of money for international data roaming, so why not domestic data roaming? Make it a feature you have to explicitly enable. I would likely disable background data on roaming, but if I'm out in the middle of nowhere and I need to pull up a map for directions, it might be worth it to just pay for the data roaming.

September 5, 2012, 23:08
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

I feel the same way about data roaming - make it an option.  However, for maps, I'd advise using CoPilot Live.  I'm using CoPilot Live Standard, which is free, but when you're using it with GPS, you aren't using data.  There are other flavors of it on Google Play as well, for varying prices.  The other advantage is that where any data connection is iffy, the app still works.  It's more like true GPS devices in that mode, minus things like live traffic.  You want to make sure you do the map downloads onto your SD card with wifi because of the size of the files.

September 6, 2012, 09:30
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

Thanks for the recommendation, Iris. In the past I've been kind of protective of SD space, since I store a lot of music on it, but my new Galaxy SIII will support a 64gb card, so that will give me some breathing room even with all my favorite music. :)

September 6, 2012, 11:35
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

While I do feel that CoPilot is a great idea for your phone, and it is living on mine, if your primary use is in a car and you want live traffic data, a better (or companion) choice might be an inexpensive GPS device with lifetime map updates.  I'd never owned a GPS and was treated to a rant from a co-worker about the cost of upgrading the maps in the one built into her car.  I was then convinced I didn't want one that was built in, but came across a deal on a smaller, cheaper Garmin system with lifetime map updates included.  Ours lives in the console in our larger vehicle.

It works fine, but updating the maps is a PITA - take it into the house, plug it into the PC, get it all set up right, and it takes quite a while for it to complete.  I only do this before major trips, and don't use it locally - if I need a map then, I'll use my phone.  CoPilot Standard updates via Google Play, and is a breeze to update, though it takes a little while because of the size of the map files, but nowhere near as long as the Garmin.  Google Maps (or carrier navigation) is probably the most current, but of course uses data and therefor requires a cell signal.  Even with full network coverage (as you might have from a major carrier contract plan) a cell signal just doesn't reach everywhere, contrary to what VZW would have you believe.  :-)

September 7, 2012, 08:00
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Aaron Carter

Data roaming - or lack thereof - is also my greatest complaint about Ting. I understand the cost would be prohibitively expensive for most, but not having the option is even worse. My data usage tends to be quite low to begin with, so I would be willing to pay ** a lot ** more for roaming data than what Ting charges for data on the Sprint network, if it were available.

Ting, PLEASE consider adding the option. For everything else, Ting rocks!

September 7, 2012, 21:53
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Ken Olson

People please.  Just sign up for a MIFI hotspot from someone, probably Verizon, and you'll have your data connection where ever you want it.  

September 8, 2012, 18:59
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army
I don't want a hotspot with a contract, I don't need that. If I needed that kind of coverage, I probably would not be considering Ting. I want the option of it for an occasional vacation trip or excursion outside my normal stomping grounds. Even without a contract, I'd have to pay the full fee for a months use where it would only be a couple of days. And I'd have to know ahead of time to activate a monthly service.
September 8, 2012, 23:32
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Zarthan South
Ting Army

T-Mobile has a no contract MIFI where you can add a weekly or monthly pass. A weekly pass is $15 for 300MB a Monthly pass for 1.5GB is $25. No monthly commitment.

September 11, 2012, 11:58
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

If the issue is coverage, well so does Verizon, but I'm not looking for anything that serious, or that requires that much planning ahead, or requires carrying yet another device.  I just want to be able to make a decision when necessary that I'll pay for the off-network usage.

If my Airave question gets an answer that says I have to be in striking distance of a native Sprint tower, it won't matter anyway, since we'll not be able to make the switch to Ting.

September 11, 2012, 12:10
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Amzie Jordan

Last Updated: Nov 02, 2012

Know what coverage to expect with older single-band phones [URL="http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Know_what_coverage_to_exp... plans that don't include roaming [/U][/URL

 

URL:  http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Know_what_coverage_to_exp...

January 14, 2013, 22:35
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Michael Wespetal

I'm another customer that would be willing to pay for data roaming, or it would be even better if it could be billed at a multiplied rate of normal data. I'm usually on sprint towers, but that's not always the case in rural areas. 

March 19, 2013, 17:19
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David Peart

I found that when I was on Sprint data roaming was a "nice idea", but in practice if I ever roamed the data just didn't work.  I would be standing next to my brother who is on Verizon and he was getting the fastest speeds you can imagine and my Sprint data roaming was so pitifully slow it was unusable.  So I don't miss it.  Just my $0.02

March 19, 2013, 18:30
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Philip Newman

no data for me in eastern Maine this summer. not sure what I am going to do. On Sprint, I had 300MB of 1X data per month.

March 22, 2013, 21:38
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

Philip,

If you *must* have data there, perhaps Ting's service offerings are not the best choice for you. Ting has estimated that roaming data is about 10 times the cost of non-roaming data.

I doubt that Ting will alter their data policy any time soon Ting is already scrambling to staff support to meet their growing customer base.

March 23, 2013, 09:47
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Philip Newman

I can get one month prepaid with US Cellular in Eastern Maine. that should solve the problem. it's just a two week vacation.

March 23, 2013, 09:53
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Michael Wespetal

It's hard to go to something else when the plan fits my family's needs so well and the customer service is excellent. However, event at 10 times the cost I would be willing to pay the added cost for the times I need it. I hope it is considered in the future, especially since Ting offers international data roaming. 

March 23, 2013, 09:53
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Philip - I know there are a lot of carriers' coverage maps that are white (no coverage) in parts of Maine.  I'll presume you've been there before and know that US Cellular has coverage where you want it.  I can see that US Cellular has coverage in some parts where Verizon and Sprint do not.  But what device will you be using?

March 23, 2013, 10:02
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Philip Newman

Iris: I need to call US Cellular to determine what my options are for a prepaid data tethering device. With the money I save with Ting, I can easily justify prepaid data on US Cellular when I want it. This is NOT a reason to leave TING. 

March 23, 2013, 21:05
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Linton Rentfro

A friend and I were on a road trip across Arkansas for a long stretch of the trip, his Ting Samsung Galaxy Nexus had data and mine didn't.  I restarted mine a few times and tried toggling every data related setting but nothing worked.  His phone had a data connection for about an hour and mine didn't.  What could have caused that and is there any way to avoid it in the future?

March 25, 2013, 22:57
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Zarthan South
Ting Army

Travel with a different friend. ;-)

March 26, 2013, 00:19
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Linton Rentfro

Zarthan, I might not have explained what happened very well.  The friend and I both had identical phones and both are on Ting.  I was just confused as to why his data connection was working while mine didn't, especially over such a long distance traveled.  Any idea why his had data and mine didn't or was it just a weird fluke?

March 26, 2013, 15:18
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Rob Lake
Ting Help Center

The most likely explanation Linton has to do with settings on either your phones or on your accounts, and for data to work, you want to make sure it's enabled in both places.

If it was and you're still having trouble, toggling on and off features will reset the connection and fix problems like this.

Based on what you're saying, these are the best general kinds of thoughts I've got for you.

You could also give us a call while if you find yourself in the same situation in future. There might be something else that we could do, but it'd definitely help if you were having the trouble at the point so we could test everything out.

March 26, 2013, 16:31
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

A friend of ours has a child starting college in Boulder, CO next fall, and was looking at cell coverage in the area.  Of course, I suggested Ting, and they've looked at Ting along with other options.

They came back to me with a comparison of the data coverage of Ting and Republic.  What they saw was some data roaming on Republic, and of course no data roaming on Ting.  I just found this odd since in most places the coverage is the same, since both are on Sprint's network, and I didn't think Republic did data roaming either.  The area where it showed up was in Kansas, west of Wichita (not anyplace where I spend any time), which seems to be a voice roaming area for both carriers, and I know that Ting really doesn't do data roaming.

In the past, I know there had been some issues with the coverage map, but I just wanted to ask and see if anything had changed on this topic with Ting.

May 1, 2014, 13:11
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Michael Wespetal
Unfortunately nothing has changed for data roaming on Ting. I've started to move lines to other carriers as Sprint will never improve coverage in the area I'm in.
May 1, 2014, 13:54
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Mike Gionfriddo

I just posted more details in another thread on this subject so will save the words here.........but I will just throw in a post here as well again to voice my support for some minimal optional data roaming. I agree with everything the previous posters have said. The option for a minimal amount of data roaming even at a high price per mb would be nice when needed even if it were slower data. As long as it was dependable and configurable amongst phones in your account. 

June 8, 2014, 16:27
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Alexander Kaltsas

Philosophically I agree that there should be some sort of Optional Data Roaming. Practically, in my experience with both AT&T, Verizon, and US Cellular their data roaming ranged from extremely slow to non functional. Never did data roaming work as you would expect on any of them. Voice roaming worked fine with all 3. Perhaps Ting also realizes that data roaming may not offer a desirable experience to their customers.

June 9, 2014, 09:48
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

If you requre data roaming, then Ting is not your best choice. For 98% of cell phone users though, Ting will save them money.

June 9, 2014, 11:25
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H F
Ting Army

I guess this is one of the drawbacks with using Ting.  I was up in New Hampshire in North Conway/Mt. Washington Valley area and I had no data service. With Sprint I would roam over to Verizon's data network and get at least a 3G signal.  Lack of data good and bad.  Good... is that I wasn't expected to do any work, Bad, was that I couldn't even get personal email and texting with pictures wouldn't work much either. 

July 15, 2014, 08:59
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

Be happy you had voice roaming. Most Sprint MVNOs do not roam off the Sprint network and you would have had no service.

July 15, 2014, 09:00
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Bruce - "Be happy" is not exactly the right attitude.  Without voice roaming, there is no way I'd be on Ting.  And the landscape is changing somewhat as well.  Republic Wireless seems to have the same voice footprint as Ting, along with some data roaming, if their maps can be believed.

July 15, 2014, 09:10
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

Iris, My brother is using Republic and I can confirm data roaming. I think its 100MB. I suspect the recent roaming agreements Sprint has made with smaller CDMA carriers for LTE are part of that. However the device choice and some other things make me still a bit weary of Republic.

July 15, 2014, 09:38
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Wesley - thanks for confirming.  But I think you mean "leary", and I do get that.  But my daughter is using a Moto X (one of the 2 RW options) on Ting, and likes it a lot.  (The other option is the Moto G, and there's another thread on the Ting forums about people bringing over the Boost version, though not yet officially supported.)  A negative for RW though, is that you can't even use a GSM SIM when out of the country (it's not removable on the RW phones), though wifi calling will still work.  Daughter was able to swap out her Ting SIM and use her phone on a recent trip, as did I with my Nexus 5.

July 15, 2014, 09:48
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

ha yes leery... I am not a bit tired of Republic :) Yes I feel like Ting is a "full service" mobile provider. Republic feels like you are making sacrifices for the savings, however for my brother it is a second device to his company provided phone so it works perfectly for him.

July 15, 2014, 09:51
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

Iris,

I was just trying to point out that TIng's services are much better than Kajeet!, Virgin, Boost, etc. Ting also has International roaming. If data roaming is a requirement, you are probably part of the 2% of wireless issues that are not a good match for Ting. 

choosing any service is always a tradeoff. For me, the lack of data roaming is worth it to get the savings. If this thread was listed as a feature request under "Ask Ting", my answer would be different.

BTW, good luck using your Nexus 5 on Republic.

 

July 15, 2014, 10:08
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Bruce - ha ha, very funny about the N5 - though that is likely to be the one and only CDMA phone of its ilk.  As I pointed out (full disclosure), there are only 2 essentially proprietary phones on RW.  But you don't need an Airave either - which I have to have at my home to use either a Ting or Sprint phone there.

And obviously I'm here and not on RW.

July 15, 2014, 10:13
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

You don't think the iPhone models would be consolidated in a similar manner? It would greatly simplify things for Apple. They currently have 5 models of iPhone 5s, for instance. There are only 2 models of Nexus 5. 

My wife would say we need an Airave (or better signal or perhaps a different carrier) but that does not appear to be happening anytime soon.

July 15, 2014, 10:18
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Verizon is not interested in giving their users any more flexibility with their phones than they absolutely have to.  It would simplify things for Apple, but VZW isn't interested, as evidenced by them totally dissing the N5.

And we were totally blindsided a few years ago (2012) by the cost of Ting international roaming on CDMA, and that was all voice, not data.  I would not recommend it.  If you've got a GSM-capable phone and want to use it outside the US, you can put a local GSM SIM in it and the cost will be whatever you've chosen when you get the SIM.  Just make sure the phone NEVER tries to contact a CDMA network internationally if the service is available.  It won't cost you anything, but it will screw up delivery of texts and voicemails, and they may be lost to you even when you return.

 

July 15, 2014, 10:36
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

Actually, Ting's rates for roaming to Canada were part of the reason for choosing ting. They are *much* lower than Sprint's rates, for instance. I just use voice & text with Wi-Fi for data.

July 15, 2014, 10:39
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

Iris, you are correct about Verizon, but due to some of the LTE bands they use most of their LTE phones are unlocked (by law not the goodness of their hearts). The truly global phones like the iPhone, S5, etc that have SIM slots you can pop in an AT&T SIM even here. It is all dependent on the radios the phones have of course but I have read many reports of people moving a Verizon iPhone to AT&T with voice and HSPA+ I'm not for sure about LTE.

July 15, 2014, 10:40
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Bruce - Ting's rates for Canada are reasonable, and somewhat for PR/Guam/US VI, but outgoing text for the latter will get you too.  Data isn't a great rate for either, but if you're controlling data usage anyway, you can avoid getting burned.  It's the 'all other countries' part that will get you (which applied to our daughter's trip in 2012), along with the international surcharge.

Wesley - Yeah, they won't get another carrier's LTE on a phone that started out as a VZW phone.  The whole notion of an 'unlocked' CDMA phone confuses people into thinking they can move between VZW and Sprint, which is wrong.  The closest thing to that is taking a Sprint phone to PagePlus by flashing it.  This is only of interest to those who are ditching VZW for one reason or another and going to a GSM carrier - otherwise why pay VZW prices for a phone?

 

July 15, 2014, 11:06
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

Iris, agreed, but its a good out for someone who is on Verizon and wants to move to prepaid AT&T. The frustrating thing about the CDMA phones is that there is no reason they wouldn't work other than the carriers being jerks.

July 15, 2014, 11:10
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Wesley - Yes, Cricket especially is working well for AT&T prepaid.  The CDMA carriers - well we're playing in a large, relatively geographically isolated sandbox here in the US, and since VZW and Sprint are the only players here, Verizon will just keep doing its own thing, so Sprint will rather have to as well.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with the Sprint/T-Mobile - er - not sure what to call that.

If someone would come up with a service equivalent to Google Voice that handled MMS and did wifi calling, we would have some interesting choices.  (And please don't tell me how MMS is going away.  I've got a college-aged daughter.)

July 15, 2014, 11:21
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

Iris, I'm pulling for sprinT-Mobile but I would love to see Sprint shake things up and allow verizon phones on its network. I think if nothing else it could hack verizon off and that would be cool in my book. Would be so great for my wife's iPhone 5 to simply activate on Ting when she is finished with her contract with Verizon

 

July 15, 2014, 11:33
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

There's nothing technical to keep Sprint from doing it for any Verizon phone, except for the headache of managing the changeover for a raft of devices.  Kind of like BYOD on steroids.

July 15, 2014, 12:07
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

I really don't understand why they don't do that. Switch to Sprint bring your Verizon device.

 

July 15, 2014, 12:16
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

I am surprised that Sprint allows Ting to do as much as they do with BYOD. 

July 15, 2014, 12:33
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Wesley Stout
Ting Army

Bruce I partly see that but again, considering Sprint's market position and the perception of the brand I see why they might do some crazy stuff. MVNOs provide them revenue without having to provide customer service that has to be a pretty good thing for them. I would think more subscribers over all would be more beneficial to them than selling devices. Of course when you sell them how they are sold from cell companies that may not be the case.

July 15, 2014, 13:43
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Morgan Johnson
Ting Army

I'm wondering if the roaming situation might improve after the T-Mobile merger goes through (assuming it does). I know CDMA and GSM are not compatible, but LTE networks are a different animal. I know we have yet to see an LTE-only device on any carrier, but that day is coming -- this fall according to Verizon -- and there's a good chance that within the next year or two we'll start seeing broader roaming options come to Ting, at least on LTE. Even without the merger, LTE-only roaming might become a real thing. I'd certainly be excited to see it; while I don't have any issues with Sprint's network in my area, when I visit family on either side of Atlanta it's a different story. 

July 16, 2014, 21:37
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H F
Ting Army

Morgan, you are correct. LTE coverage is still a bit lacking, however it would be very interesting in the future to have just LTE service as the Over the top Services (Skype, Vonage, other Instant messaging communications will just run on top of the data network and it would make these applications a reality to replace the voice networks.  

July 16, 2014, 21:47